Signage Guidelines can reduce clutter in the landscape

The image of US 280 in Michael Tomberlin’s post – Birmingham committee revisiting sign rules is very telling of the suburban landscape where signs breed like rabbits and litter the road side with retailers using the mantra ‘the bigger the better’ rather than ‘less is more’. Signage littering the urban landscape is not endemic to just Birmingham or the USA for that matter, all across the globe streetscapes are littered with A-Frames blackboard signs, bus stop advertising and billboards. But do they really urge passers by to go and shop or are they just landmarks to designate the location of the store? I think it is the latter and that all cities should have formulate signage guidelines (many already do) including the number of signs allowed and the size.

Guidelines should also go further to streetscape and city government signage & intepretation. Often towns and city landscapes becomes a minefield of directional, parking and place marking signs that have been added layer by layer by various departments and changes of staff who continually add more signage to the landscape. All cities should at the least evaluate their main streetscapes and see where they can reduce the clutter to provide a clean landscape that is visually easy to navigate and often more pedestrian friendly. Often city signage for an area can be easily amalgamated into one sign(or sign family) such as place marking and area parking restrictions.

Read more about what Birmingham is proposing at [al.com]

“Creative Placemaking”: A resource for revitalising communities and cities

I have just skim read Mayors’ Institute on City Design’s (MICD) most recent publication, Creative Placemaking(pdf)by Dr. Ann Markusen, principal of Markusen Economic Research Services, and Anne Gadwa, principal with Metris Arts Consulting focuses on how communities are using the arts and other creative assets to help shape their physical, social, and economic character.

From the parts of the 69-page Creative Placemaking(pdf) document that I have read it has great content that gives data about the industry including number of artists, contribution to USA GDP, industry exports,  and cases studies. The report also looks into partnerships, regulatory hurdles, avoiding displacement & gentrification and developing metrics for evaluation.

The report points to key elements for a project’s success – Initiators, Distinctiveness, Mobilizing Public, Private Sector Support, Arts Community and Partnerships.

Creative Placemaking(pdf) provides 14 case studies from across the USA and a summary of each project.

Creative Placemaking(pdf)is a resource for mayors, arts organizations, the philanthropic sector, and others interested in understanding strategies for leveraging the arts to help shape and revitalize the physical, social, and economic character of neighborhoods, cities, and towns. If your artist, designer, landscape architect, architect or a city employee this document is a must read.

I’ll think this great quote from the report  sums up the quality of  Creative Placemaking(pdf)

A culture-based revitalization effort must be appropriate to its local circumstances, not a “me, too” replica of what other cities and towns are doing. The best of the projects nurture distinctive qualities and resources that already exist in the community and can be celebrated to serve community members while drawing in visitors and new businesses, as Mark Stern and Susan Seifert’s longitudinal study in Philadelphia finds.

Download the report at National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) – warning direct link to PDF (right click save as)

Other resources on NEA’s website along with other arts and community design resources:


DesignNYC – Exhibition [VIDEOS]

designNYC currently has an exhibition at Pratt Manhattan Gallery at 144 West 14th Street New York displaying the their progress and impact of their first 12 pilot projects. The exhibition is on from June 17 to July 31, 2010. The first 12 projects include pro-bono work by well known landscape architects Balmori Associates with Broadway MallJoel Sanders,,Domingo Gonzalez on Master plan for 100-block ecological corridor. Also Robin Key Landscape Architecture with Enterprise Community Partners/FBHC work on
Intergenerational garden at Serviam Gardens.

desigNYC’s mission is to improve live in NYC by connecting nonprofits, community groups and city agencies serving the public good with passionate, professional pro bono designers.

They have also posted 7 videos on a Vimeo Channel including

desigNYC: Broadway Mall + Sanders, Balmori and Gonzalez from ESI Design on Vimeo.

The Broadway Mall Association is collaborating with Balmori Associates (Landscape/Urban Design), Joel Sanders (Architecture), and Domingo Gonzalez Associates (Lighting Design) to transform the entire 100-block length of the Broadway Malls into a stunning ecological corridor that will bring beauty, public safety, and commercial visibility to thousands of New Yorkers.

desigNYC: Serviam Gardens from ESI Design on Vimeo.

Working with Enterprise Community Partners, Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation (FBHC) and OCV Architects, Robin Key Landscape Architecture (RKLA) is developing an intergenerational garden for seniors and high school students at the Serviam Gardens senior housing development in the Bronx. Built on the campus of Mt. St. Ursula, an all-girls Catholic high school, the grounds of Serviam Gardens will serve the building’s 240 senior residents with a series of outdoor spaces that feature sustainable water practices, accessibility, community gathering spaces and an urban farm.

Spotted via Core77 – design magazine & resource

European Green City Index – how green is your city?

Siemens recently published on their website the European Green City Index showing the results of a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Copenhagen was ranked #1 with Stockholm (2) and Oslo (3). Dense city centres such as Berlin (8), Paris (10) and London (11) scored high on the test. Cities that scored low where Sofia (29) and Kiev(30). These cities scored low as populations have increased and the economies have grown underinvestment in infrastructure has caused crowding on public transport and roads along with other factors such as climate which increase requirements for heating and cooling.

For more information about the study go to the [SOURCE: Siemens - Green City Index]

José María Tomás: “nineteenth-century urban models, will not work.”

Barcelona reporter:

Famous Valencian architect José María Tomás said “nineteenth-century urban models, will not work.

Today, cities have other needs. We must create spaces to live, work and enjoy. The street is changing”. He made the statement at the close of a meeting of Architects and Planners, organized by the Forum Mediterranean House, at which experts have called for sustainable urban design that respects the terrain and does not add to the destruction of the environment.

Read what José has to say at the [SOURCE: Barcelona Reporter - Famous Valencian architect José María Tomás said “nineteenth-century urban models, will not work.]

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