Posts tagged with "Wayfinding":

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Pentagram and WXY team up for supersized aerial signage at Rockaway Beach’s new boardwalk

The architecture studio WXY, engineering firm C2HM, and Pentagram have partnered to rebuild the boardwalk on Rockaway Beach. When it's complete in 2017, the new boardwalk will be a five and a half mile long segmented cement walkway featuring graphic signage that can only be read from the air. The approximately 50-foot-by-100-foot letters span the length of the boardwalk to spell out "Rockaway Beach" in dyed blue concrete. The blue reflects the walkway's proximity to the ocean while remaining clear against the surrounding pale concrete. Paula Scher at Pentagram is leading the design team. The boardwalk is part of a $140 million Rockaway Beach coastal resiliency plan that includes dune restoration, geotextile sandbags to protect buildings near the beach, and concrete retaining walls to keep sand in place during severe storms. The first mile, from Beach 86 Street to Beach 97 Street, opened just in time for beach season this year.
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Five new apps put urban planning at your fingertips

In the age of apps, we have seen basic human activities like eating, dating, shopping, and exercising be condensed into simple swipes and clicks. It’s a brave new world and one that has folded-in the complex process of financing, developing, and designing new projects. And in recent years, there has been a batch of new apps designed to help planners, architects, cities, and the general public create more livable cities. Here are a few of those apps that caught AN’s attention. StreetMix Imagine if you could redesign a city street in an instant—without the hassles of political approval, community input, or extensive planning. Sounds pretty nice, right? Well, an app called Streetmix lets you live that urbanist dream, at least in a two-dimensional, cartoony kind of way. In the Streetmix world, if you want a wider bike lane, you can go right ahead and build a wider bike lane. You want light-rail? All aboard. You want a wayfinding sign? Done. How about two wayfinding signs? They’re already in. It’s just that easy. Now, obviously, the app is not intended to be an actual data-driven planning tool. For starters, there are no implications if you, say, remove all driving lanes and mass transit options and replace them with trees and benches. And that’s the fun of it. Instead, Streetmix was designed as a user-friendly program that lets everyday citizens understand what's possible on a typical city street. Lou Huang, of Code For America, which is behind the app, told Next City that he hopes these people can then use this knowledge to better engage in their community's planning process. WideNoise and Stereopublic  A neighborhood's lively mix of restaurants, bars, streets, and shops can be both its biggest draw and its most frustrating feature. All of that street-level action may signify a vibrant and livable slice of the city, but try living directly above it. Try getting some sleep with all of that constant chaos. For those who have to wear earplugs, and sleep alongside a white noise machine, there are two apps that may be able to help you out. The first is called WideNoise and it allows users to track noise pollution across an entire city. It’s part of a larger, open-source EU project called EveryAware which monitors all types of pollution. WideNoise is focused entirely on the noise side of things. “With WideNoise you can monitor the noise levels around you, everywhere you go,” explained the app's creators on its website.  “You can also check the online map to see the average sound level of the area around you. Do you live in a ‘sleeping cat area’ or in a noisier ‘rock concert area’?” So WideNoise might not be a huge help to those currently living in a noisy area, but it could be a helpful tool when they try to escape it. A somewhat similar crowd-sourcing, noise-tracking app is the less-official-sounding Stereopublic. The app's creators describe it as "a participatory art project that asks you to navigate your city for quiet spaces, share them with your social networks, take audio and visual snapshots, experience audio tours and request original compositions made using your recordings.” OppSites and OpportunitySpaces Officially launching this fall is OppSites, an app that connects cities that want to develop with national investors who can make it happen. To do that, the platform allows cities to “promote their development priorities and share local knowledge” with interested investors. There is a free service that offers investors real-time market and civic updates on certain sites, but those willing to shell out a few dollars can get the premium level that provides visualizations of development opportunities. There is also a similar website with a similar name, OpportunitySpace, that offers a similar service: portals that visualize under-used or vacant sites that are all publicly-owned. The idea is roughly the same—connect developers, investors, and the public with information about cities, but the website is focused entirely on government properties that have seen better days. In June, the site’s cofounder and CEO, Alex Kapur, told CityLab that all the information they display is publicly available, it's just not publicly accessible.
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St. Louis Exhibition Explores Street Design in Grand Center Arts District

St. Louis’ Grand Center neighborhood has gone through a lot of changes. Though it was hit hard by suburban flight during the 1950s, in recent years the historic and predominantly African-American community area has enjoyed an artistic revival bolstered by theaters and cultural institutions like the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. Now a confluence of development corporations and nonprofits want the midtown neighborhood “to become the premiere cultural and entertainment tourist destination in the Midwest.” Part of that plan involves sprucing up the urban fabric. With a Great Streets Projects grant from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, local groups are looking to do some placemaking. Read the full Grand Center Master Plan, named The Growing Grand Plan. On a neighborhood scale, the plan envisions corridors of development along Spring and Theresa streets flanking the “spine & transect” of Grand Boulevard and Washington Avenue. Within that framework, the plan pinpoints several intersections and cross-block connectors that could be activated by public programming to function as “outdoor rooms.” Trees and green infrastructure are meant to alleviate some of St. Louis’ flooding issues by retaining and filtering stormwater. The Great Streets plan even describes a new catchment area for Grand Center. Branding, wayfinding, lighting, and transportation analyses are also a focus of the plan. To help spur discussion, The Creative Exchange Lab of the Center for Architecture is mounting an exhibition on the topic. Titled Great Streets Project: Grand Center, the show kicks off with two presentations on May 22 and May 23 at The Creative Exchange Lab of the Center for Architecture + Design STL, 3307 Washington Ave., from 6-8:30 p.m. both evenings.
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Lost in Penn Station

With any luck, Moynihan Station will finally get off the ground thanks to last's months grant of $83 million in stimulus funds. Having gone through what seems like dozens of iterations, it's unclear exactly what shape the new station will take, but we do have one piece of advice for whatever cabal of designers takes up the massive project: Don't forget the signs. While no hardened New Yorker would admit to getting lost in Penn's warren of tunnels and concourses, Slate's Julia Turner uses the underground mess as Exhibit-A of bad signage for her series running this week and next about just how important wayfinding is in our increasingly confusing world. As Turner puts it, signage is "is the most useful thing we pay no attention to." The Jane Jacobs in all of us will point to the low-ceilings and poor layout, the ugly stepchild of McKim, Mead & White's glorious station, as the reason for the confusion Penn causes in visitors new and old alike. But Turner says the real problem, and potential solution, lies with the signage. While some of the signs work, the problem is the whole of the station, or lack thereof. The main issue, according to Turner, is that the busiest station in the country must serve three masters, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the MTA (both LIRR and subways). We actually chuckled when David Gibson, principal of design firm Two Twelve, pointed out in the video above, "Here we are, we're at the intersection of three sign worlds." Could you imagine facing the same problem at busy intersection? Just as signs can create a problem, they can also fix them. As Turner points out in her third installment today, signs are already helping to take the confusion and congestion out of London's Underground—and the city in general—by directing people to stay above ground and walk, with the help of some new signs, of course. Granted Grand Central Terminal does not face the hodge podge of constraints Penn Station does, nor was it decimated by Robert Moses, but during a stroll through last night, it was clear to us how relatively easy it can be to get this right. Given how long it's taken to get Moynihan Station off the ground, and the obstinacy of transit bureaucracies to begin with, we'd be surprised if anything gets done before the arrival of the new station. Let's just hope they heed this warning and get it right next time.