Though the downtown areas in many established American cities have experienced years, decades or even centuries of wear-and-tear and neglect, the last two decades have shown a promising shift, with more and more urban centers revitalizing, regrowing, and reinventing their downtowns.
Thankfully, many downtown revitalization efforts have been supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Streets Program, which assists with downtown redevelopment efforts in response to ‘… an era when many people had given up hope about the commercial and cultural viability of downtown, and when suburbs, shopping malls, and big-box retailers were dominating the American landscape.’
And while revitalization can prove challenging, it also provides endless opportunities for creativity, activism, economic diversity, and tourism to promote and enhance a city’s unique brand and offerings. Consider the Downtown Memphis Commission’s Downtown Metrics Report, which found that a square mile of downtown property generates more than twice the county and city taxes and more than three times the county tax revenue per square mile.
But while the dollars-and-cents of a downtown revitalization make sense, what are some of the more intangible benefits? How, exactly, does a revitalization to improve the quality of life for its residents beyond the bottom line?
Here are three ways architectural signage and elements can contribute to downtown revitalization efforts.
Enhance Navigation With Wayfinding
Downtown signage is about more than helping people get to where they want to go; it also boasts benefits to brand enhancements and key destinations. But in a time where downtown areas are quickly and easily navigated with a smartphone and information can be found within minutes, what value does signage provide?
A lot, actually.
Surprisingly, wayfinding and signage in urban landscapes prove critical beyond basic navigation, identification and information as elements such as monuments, directional systems, directories, interpretive and even regulatory signs enrich our experiences with urban environments.
In fact, the Sign Research Foundation asserts that even in an age of smartphones and GPS, physical wayfinding elements and signage systems strengthen brands by improving the legibility, navigation, understanding and accessibility of the environment.
Showcase Features Unique To Your City
When aligned with other current initiatives, architectural signage and elements can serve to enhance features unique to your city.
Case in point: Tampa’s Sparkman Wharf, which highlights Tampa’s waterfront as a new outdoor waterfront destination in the heart of the Water Street development. Featuring 10 unique dining options, craft beer, music, waterfront views, and outdoor spaces for lawn games and socializing, Sparkman Wharf collaborated with Creative Sign Designs to design, build, and install the restaurant signage, site wayfinding, and several custom signage features.
The result was more than 10 custom restaurant identity signs, site wayfinding, and branding signage, all serving to enhance and highlight one of Tampa’s most compelling features: its waterfront.
Highlight Key Attractions & Amenities
Are some of your best parks and attractions hidden deep within a downtown area? Signage can not only help navigate but unique elements can be used to better tell the story of your city and the purpose behind the attractions.For this, consider the case for the city of Tallahassee.
Creative Sign Designs was selected from a qualifying bid process by the City of Tallahassee to undertake the branding of its new social center, Cascades Park, for a design/build venture to construct wayfinding signage for the new park.
Park signage included gateway monument signs with a map and highlighted features, stainless steel etched panels for dedication plaques and monuments depicting the history of the property and the City of Tallahassee.
The signage also includes parking signage with themed finials to indicate the appropriate parking areas and parking hours. Donor plaques and pedestrian directional signs are located at intersections throughout the park that included an information/map cabinet with interchangeable copy.
Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign
It’s easy to overlook the less obvious benefits of signs, especially in a bustling downtown area. But beyond their inherent practicality, signs boast endless opportunities to enhance the aesthetics, quality of life and branding in urban landscapes – even in the digital age.
Contact us today to learn more about incorporating urban wayfinding elements into your next project.