Ann Arbor Project Launches

Posted in Government on October 7th, 2009 by Mark VanderKlipp – Be the first to comment

With the wayfinding system in its final stages of installation, we met with Susan Pollay during the 2009 International Downtown Association annual conference in Milwaukee to get her feedback.

Let’s just say it started with a big hug, and went from there.

Susan puts it like this: “We are all so enormously proud of the way this project turned out…!”

Susan Pollay, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor DDA, proudly displays her new signage system during a site visit with the fabricator.

Susan Pollay, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor DDA, proudly displays the new signage system during a site visit with the fabricator.

At the outset of this project, we were told that public input would be a key part of the process. A vocal and passionate citizenry, for which A2 is famous, would want input on the entire project – and frankly, their input would make the project much more successful. Together with the project team, consisting of several members of the Ann Arbor DDA, the University of Michigan and other stakeholders, we designed a series of public meetings to gather input and develop the perfect solution for this city.

The problem? Despite several invitations and word on the street, initial meetings were lightly attended. The Corbin team moved forward with the best information available, and produced design options for consideration. When things “got real,” members of Ann Arbor’s design community made clear their objections to the interim design – and the DDA wisely put the project on hold while they gave these designers a chance to explain how they felt the project design could be improved.

Through a series of social media outlets, blogs and word of mouth, a host of local designers, artisans and creative citizens pooled their brainpower, did extensive research and held a half day charette that culminated in a contest where a recommended design solution was presented to the DDA. While we welcomed this feedback, the DDA was clear that responsibility for the final design solution rested with our team. Through this process, we gained a number of insights that certainly strengthened the final design.

“We are all so enourmously proud of the way this project turned out…!”

Susan Pollay

Based on this enlightened community feedback, we went back to work and designed the solution you see on the streets today. The community favored clean lines and an innovative structural design that would be “true” to the materials used. The result is a solution that avoids any decorative applications; that is as functional as it is beautiful; that merges with the eclectic streetscape while providing sufficient information for vehicles and pedestrians. The program reflects a proactive process: extensive input, opportunities for complete feedback and design within regulatory (local, state and federal) constraints.

In the end, the insights and information provided by the community informed our design process to both simplify and enhance quality fabrication detail in the wayfinding signage program. As the DDA predicted, this community feedback did make the project more successful. The conversation among Ann Arbor citizens continues online, and we’ll continue to learn from this experience as we apply it to other urban wayfinding projects.

Special thanks go to Susan and the Ann Arbor DDA for masterfully guiding the process and making sure all voices were heard and considered; to the University of Michigan for their thoughtful input and cooperation; to Fairmont Sign of Detroit for their excellent execution of the finished products; and of course to the citizens of Ann Arbor for helping shape and direct the project.

Congratulations! South Main Street in Ann Arbor was granted a Great Streets Award on October 7, 2009 from the American Planning Association. View the article here

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Corbin Design, a national leader in wayfinding planning and signage design, announced Shelley Steele has been named President. Steele formerly served as vice president of marketing.

As president, Steele is primarily responsible for the vision and direction of Corbin Design as well as the internal leadership and management of the staff. In her new role, she will continue to oversee business development and marketing.

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As we develop wayfinding systems for a variety of clients, we appreciate how public engagement is critical to the design process. Here, we share two examples from recent client groups and the outcomes of those sessions:

Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans LA

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The FHWA has issued a clarification on the ruling it issued on January 25, 2016 terminating the Interim Approval of Clearview as an alternate font to the MUTCD. With regard to community wayfinding signage systems, the use of alternate fonts is still possible.

To summarize:

  • Projects currently in fabrication do not need to comply.
  • To the extent possible, projects currently in design should switch to the

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