As downtown residents, we generally know where stuff is, the direction the streets run, and we’ve developed a keen sense for about how far we are from any landmark.
Good wayfinding is an important asset for a city. It aims to expand localized knowledge into a form that visitors can use. It’s something that you notice when traveling in other cities.
Or, you find yourself cursing its absence.
A few posts ago, buried in a roundup post, I took aim at the Downtown Wayfinding Program – an effort to standardize street and directional signs – for ceasing to (publicly) display any progress. City staff reached out to kindly let me know the project was not “on ice” but working towards completing a graphic manual.
Imagine my pleasant surprise when I surfed over to the project page recently to find a Wayfinding Master Plan has been published (pdf), which includes a project timeline that contemplates five phases between January 2014 – March 2016 and beyond.
When Staff presented their wayfinding plan to Council last winter, there was some controversy about Austin’s sexy parking “P”. The mayor, for one, was not a fan of keeping it weird when it comes to parking. (Mayor: I agree with you!).
“It’s supposed to be a signal that’s the same around the country, around the world,” Mayor Lee Leffingwell said of the Austinized logos, KUT News reported. “I don’t see anything to be gained by a little twist, any more than I could see a point of making stop signs triangular instead of octagonal.” [Zing!!!]
A couple of other points about the wayfinding report which I’m happy to see
- According to the report, “the intent of the Downtown Austin Wayfinding Master Plan is not to add signage on top of existing conditions, but to remove and replace existing wayfinding signage to create an organized and comprehensive approach.” This is a signal that Staff is aware of the blight created by more street signs.
- The batty street sign system for downtown, which sometimes show the street names, sometimes show the “historical” names, and sometimes show the honorary names will be standardized.