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City's wayfinding signage concepts approved

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham may be seeing new wayfinding signage in the future after city commissioners voted on Monday, December 18, to approve signage concepts within a drafted Wayfinding Signage Master Plan.

A wayfinding signage master plan has already been in place for the city since 2004, according to planning director Nick Dupuis, called the 2004 Citywide Wayfinding and Signage Design Program. Four gateway signs were installed as a result of the plan.

The city’s recent update of the logo as well as a car collision damaging one of the gateway signs on Woodward at Quarton had led staff to recommend an updated version of the wayfinding signage master plan. In January of this year, the commission selected Corbin Design as the consulting firm to help update the signage program.

The wayfinding master plan itself is separated into four sections: design intent drawings, sign location plan, message schedules and budget and phasing plan.

“Wayfinding is more than those simple definitions that I mentioned earlier telling people where places are and how to get there,” Dupuis said.

“Wayfinding is an important component of a successful destination. It moves people through an environment and into desired places within it using signage and visual cues. … There is sort of a symbiotic relationship between a city’s brand, which we have recently reinforced, in its wayfinding system,” he continued.

As part of the process for updating the plan and city branding, an ad hoc wayfinding and gateway signage committee was created consisting of individuals with professional experience.

Some of the commission had questions over the scope and comprehensiveness of the proposed plan. City manager Jana Ecker explained that the scope of the project was to refresh what the 2004 master plan had already laid out.

Commissioners Andrew Haig, Clinton Baller and Therese Longe said a more comprehensive look at citywide signage would be beneficial for the plan. Ecker said the intent from the administration side is to create an all-inclusive plan that incorporates all the signage for consistency and branding.

Longe suggested approving the plan knowing that it wouldn’t be the final step, the city could go back with an RFP or addendum and ask for more work. Baller disagreed saying that he doesn’t think the city should approve the master plan if the commission is planning to go back and change it.

Ultimately, commissioner Haig motioned to approve the signage concepts within the plan as presented, as it could be used as building blocks for what the city wants to do next.

Commissioners unanimously approved the signage concepts within the plan rather than approve the signage master plan in its entirety in a 7-0 vote.


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