Bay City, MI

Bay City is a tourist town nestled in the crook of the “thumb” in Mid-Michigan. Located on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, it has the advantages of quaint coastal architecture, local culture and a thriving summer tourist trade, along with a manufacturing and farming base that sustains businesses and incomes throughout the region.

The goal of the wayfinding system was three-fold: build awareness, direct to downtown from area highways, and connect people to a variety of opportunities for entertainment, recreation, shopping, dining and festivals.

Because of its maritime heritage, the design of the sign system reflects a mast and sail. Within this unique design context, the information directing to primary public destinations is presented for drivers and pedestrians. Additionally, the negative spaces between sign panels generate less wind load, allowing for the slim post to carry the proper aesthetic.

Considerable work was done with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to assure that the program meets all requirements for viewing in the environment. Type size and style, contrast, reflectivity, color, scale, road speeds and setback were all considered as design constraints. Within those, we worked with Bay City stakeholders to present the culture and heritage of the city in a bold, memorable way.