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“Sandblasted glass with paint-filled recessed lines. Water-jet cut stainless steel letters. Individual drilled and inserted translucent raster braille balls.”

“Reverse-etched bronze with raised lines and letters.”

NUMBER 31, 2011

You imagine. We build. is a registered trademark of Signs + Decal Corporation.

Please contact me personally: Mohamed Khalfan,Vice President 718-486-6400


Building what visionaries see. For two generations.


“Exposed photopolymer with raised lines, finished with precision color tipping.”

15 Central Park West, New York City Designer: Pentagram Architect: Robert A.M. Stern Architects Owner/Developer: Arthur and William Zeckendorf Contractor: Bovis Lend Lease Project Scope: Complete exterior and interior wayfinding and code compliance signage systems (2,164 signs) for connected 43-story and 19-story buildings.

“Create perfectly executed, matched, custom-crafted signs that live up to the most expensive residential building built in Manhattan since the 1920s. Apply our 1/16" lined-border signage design to three radically different materials.”

You imagine. We build.


Signs Environments Graphics Designs

Airports in Transition + 21st Century Libraries + Andreas Uebele + Montreal, Inside Out

31 2011 no.

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no. 31



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Electric wire outlet


Branching Out 21st century libraries are redefining the essential community gathering place. Environmental graphics play a big role.


In Transition By providing compelling experiences for travelers and visitors, airports are transcending their old roles as generic waystations.






Architype At the intersection of architecture, typography, and information design, Andreas Uebele is making—and breaking—the rules.


Montreal Inside Out 1/4” x 2” x 72” steel A Montreal designer and magazine publisher gives us an insider’s view of the design-centric city, from urban street art to L 4X4X1/4 the Quartier des Spectacles.


Signs of Change FOOTING A small project for Montreal’s city-owned recycling centers WW 6x6-10x10 teaches a big lesson about sustainability.


 ictos Vivants P A dynamic wayfinding and sign system leads visitors to discover the wonders of science at Montreal’s Old Port.


 emembering Expo 67 R 36” long TS 4”X4”X1/4” Canada’s first World Exposition left indelible marks on the city and on designers who experienced it firsthand.





L 1 1/2X1 1/2 X 3/16



Columns 8 From the Editor by Jessica London 10 On the Web 13 Hot Reads 15 Shortlist Falls Creek Ski Resort, D’Espresso, Letterkundig Museum 76 Out There 78 Design Marketplace 79 Ad Index 80 Get Lost


On the cover: Quartier des Spectacles, Montreal’s entertainment district and cultural hub, has a new visual identity created under the artistic direction of Ruedi Baur and Jean Beaudoin, Intégral. Lighting is a key element, including its new “luminous signature” of red dots (created by Axel Morgenthaler). See story, page 28. (Photo: Martine Doyon, Partenariat du Quartier des Spectacles)

segdDESIGN 3

Publisher SEGD Services Corp.

Editor in Chief Jessica London

Executive Editor Ann Makowski

Editor Pat Matson Knapp

Design James Pittman, Design Director Andy Brown, Design Associate

Contributors David Gibson, Sue Gould, Wendy Helfenbaum, Philippe Lamarre, Justin Molloy, Jenny Reising, Jennifer Volland

Executive and Editorial Offices 1000 Vermont Ave., NW Suite 400 Washington, DC 20005 Phone: 202.638.5555 Fax: 202.478.2286

Advertising Sales Sara Naegelin 512.524.2596

Editorial, Subscriptions, Reprints, Back Issues 202.638.5555

segdDESIGN is the international journal of environmental graphic design and the Society for Environmental Graphic Design. Opinions expressed editorially and by contributors are not necessarily those of SEGD. Advertisements appearing in segdDESIGN do not constitute or imply endorsement by SEGD or segdDESIGN. Material in this magazine is copyrighted. Photocopying for academic purposes is permissible, with appropriate credit. segdDESIGN is published four times a year by the Society for Environmental Graphic Design. Periodical postage paid at York, PA, and additional mailing offices. Subscriptions: US $200/year, Canada and Int’l $275/year. Send US funds to segdDESIGN, 1000 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005. To charge your order, call 202.638.5555. Postmaster: Send address changes to segdDESIGN, 1000 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005. Š segdDESIGN 2011 SSN: 1551-4595

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2011 segdDESIGN Sponsors and Patrons Our sincere thanks to segdDESIGN’s 2011 Sponsors and Patrons!

News Conference About Us

Society for Environmental Graphic Design The global community of people working at the intersection of communication design and the built environment

PATRONS LEAD SPONSORS • Jonathan Alger, C&G Partners • Pentagram • Ralph Appelbaum Associates • Calori & Vanden-Eynden • Donovan/Green • FMG Design SPONSORS • APCO • Cloud Gehshan Associates • Gallagher & Associates For information on • Hunt Design sponsorship, email • Kate Keating Associates SEGD BOARD OF DIRECTORS Officers President: Wayne McCutcheon, Entro Communications, Toronto Vice President: Amy Lukas, Infinite Scale Design Group, Salt Lake City Treasurer: Gary Stemler, Minneapolis Jill Ayers, Design360, New York Steve Bayer, Daktronics, Brookings, S.D. Jennifer Bressler, Hunt Design, Pasadena Teresa Cox, APCO Graphics, Atlanta Peter Dixon, Prophet, New York Oscar Fernández, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Michael Gericke, Pentagram, New York Sue Gould, Lebowitz | Gould | Design, New York Mary Grems, FMG Design, Houston Edwin L. Hofmann, Limited Brands, New York Lonny Israel, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, San Francisco Cybelle Jones, Gallagher & Associates, Bethesda Kelly Kolar, Kolar Design, Cincinnati Tali Krakowsky, Apologue, Los Angeles

About SEGD Conference Design Awards Learning earning Publications Job Bank ob Bank Membership Directory

Phil Lenger, Show+Tell, New York John Lutz, Selbert Perkins Design, Chicago Tucker Trotter, Dimensional Innovations, Overland Park, Kan. Mark VanderKlipp, Corbin Design, Traverse City, Mich. Alexandra Wood, The Holmes Wood Consultancy, London Ex Officio Gary Anzalone, Precision Signs, New York David Middleton, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio Steven Stamper, fd2s, Austin (Past President)

CHAPTER CHAIRS Michele Phelan, Amy Files – Boston Jack Bryce – Brisbane, Australia Kevin Kern – Charlotte, N.C. Justin Molloy – Cincinnati  Ryan Gerber, Cathy Fromet – Cleveland  George Lim, Jon Mischke – Denver Leslie Garvis, Duane Farthing – Houston  Steve Williams – Jacksonville, Fla.  Tucker Trotter – Kansas City  Cody Clark, Steve Reinisch – Los Angeles

Michael Clarizio – Montreal Gary Anzalone – New York  John Bosio, Barbara Schwarzenbach – Philadelphia  Sarah Katsikas, Lauren Kelly – San Francisco Cynthia Hall – Seattle  Andrew Kuzyk – Toronto

6 segdDESIGN


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no. 31

From the Editor

Montreal, City of Design


2006, Montreal was designated a UNESCO City of Design, one of only a handful of cities worldwide that have been recognized for their commitment to the value of design and their efforts to create a cultural landscape fueled by design and the built environment. Montreal is not just the only City of Design in North America: it is also the only city on the continent to have established a design commissioner within its administration. Through its Municipal Action Plan: Design de ville | Ville de design, Montreal incorporates the concept of design innovation into decisions affecting the built environment, and its Design Montreal Office implements the plan by providing guidance in the commissioning process, communications, and networking. The city also realizes design as a strong economic force, adding an estimated $750 million in economic benefits and 21,700 jobs to the local economy. It’s clear that Montreal doesn’t need a third-party certification to prove its point. Design has always been in the DNA of this “North American city with a European accent.” From the performing arts and nightlife of the Quartier des Spectacles to the urban street art and festivals that make it an international destination, the city that brought the world Cirque du Soleil is unparalleled in its depth and diversity of arts, culture, and entertainment. That’s why we’re so excited to bring the 2011 SEGD Conference+Expo+Awards to this beautiful, cosmopolitan city. Scheduled for June 1-4 and headquartered at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, the conference is themed “Vive La Diversité–Designing the Difference,” and will include a program and schedule of events worthy of the title. For our first annual conference outside the U.S., we’ve also gathered a compelling roster of design experts and thought leaders. Andreas Uebele (Stuttgart), Ruedi Baur (Paris/ Zurich/Berlin), Michel Dallaire (Montreal), Garth Walker (Durban), David Gibson (New York), Renée Daoust (Montreal), and Ana Serrano (Toronto) are just a few of the highlights in a program full of opportunities for you to be inspired, solve real-world problems, and network with the thought leaders in environmental graphic design and allied disciplines. We hope this issue will encourage you to join us and “Vive la Difference” at the 2011 SEGD Conference+Expo+Awards. I look forward to welcoming you in Montreal!

Jessica W. London

Chief Executive Officer, SEGD

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no. 31

On the Web The website for SEGD’s 2011 Conference+Expo+Awards (June 1–4 in Montreal) is up and running. Visit http:// for information about speakers, tours, and the conference headquarters. And come back often—we’re adding information all the time. New this year, the site includes a Twitter feed and link to SEGD’s Facebook page.

Hablamos Juntos Corrections Our coverage of the Hablamos Juntos research (“We Speak Together,” No. 30, 2010) did not mention the role of the Technical Expert Panel that oversaw all Phase II research and wayfinding analysis and recommendations. Panel members included Steven Stamper, fd2s Inc.; Ben Goodman, Designpath LLC; Kate Keating, Kate Keating Associates; Wayne McCutcheon, Entro Communications; and Jack Biesek, Biesek Design. Our story was not complete in its crediting of the Phase I study contributions by JRC Design. The company was contracted to

complete the initial Hablamos Juntos study (completed in 2003) to determine the feasibility of using symbols as an alternative to textonly signs in healthcare settings, and to make recommendations based on the findings. Under the leadership of Jamie Cowgill, JRC also contracted and led the development of an initial set of 30 symbols. The project design team also included Kate Keating, Meg Faye, Jack Biesek, Gladys Brenner, and Jim Bolek. Wendy Olmstead provided technical expertise for symbol recognition testing, and Olmstead completed data analysis based on the process developed by Harms Zwaga. JRC recommended SEGD into the process to form a technical review committee and to promote awareness of the study among designers. SEGD’s role in Phase I and Phase II was in field-testing the symbols, working with Phil Garvey (Pennsylvania Transportation Institute) and Jim Bolek (JRC). Our story also did not properly credit two photographs that appeared on page 76. The photos, provided courtesy of fd2s Inc., depicted the comprehensive wayfinding and environmental graphics system fd2s developed for the MD Anderson Medical Center. We regret the errors.

For a complete listing of project team members for the Phase II research, see the SEGD website:


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no. 31

Hot Reads

What are You Reading? Design Like You Give a Damn—Cameron Sinclair “I loved the idea of empowering professionals, working with local residents, and finding economical solutions that address the root of the problem without preconceived ideas. It’s a humbling approach to using design talents, expertise, and passion for a worthy cause.” —Greg Parsons, Stantec

Player One—Douglas Coupland “Designer and oracle Coupland asks, ‘Where are we going?’ Coupland created this novelized reflection on our technology-dependent future, originally delivered on public radio as a fivepart CBC Massey Lecture.” —Steven Slipp, Semaphor Design Company

Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment—Isabel Losada “I live just off Battersea Park Road [London], so I thought I might get enlightened. It is a pretty funny account of a 40-something single woman who has embarked on some selfdiscovery and keeps taking herself off on different ‘retreats,’ including one on Tantric sex. She is very self-deprecating and sharp. It’s light and fun.” —Lucy Holmes, Holmes Wood

The Story of Art—E.H. Gombrich “Even with an art degree under my belt, somehow I never read this gem. Gombrich makes art accessible to the average person. He has a wonderful, fireside style that engages the reader. No art snobbery, pretension, or final exams here! It’s just great storytelling and the subject just happens to be art.” —Michele Cloghesy, Urban Planner

The Fountainhead—Ayn Rand “I was terrified to open this book, thanks to the comment on the flyleaf that it is a ‘masterpiece of moral objectivism.’ Fortunately, it is also a potboiler of a novel, with great characters and just enough references to design and architecture to make it interesting. Come for the plot, stay for the moral.” —Ann Makowski, SEGD

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no. 31

Short List

It’s All Down Under from Here Falls Creek Alpine Resort is Victoria, Australia’s, largest ski resort and one of the country’s most popular winter playgrounds. When it commissioned a new wayfinding system to help visitors navigate the complex site, it needed an environmentally conscious solution to match its claim as the first alpine-based organization to be benchmarked by Green Globe 21, the international certification for sustainable tourism. Buro North (Melbourne) responded with a flexible modular system that creates the highest possible level of visibility with the smallest presence of supporting structure.

The system is based on aluminum castings and fabricated-steel components, powdercoated for durability. The project included extensive modeling and 3D rapid prototyping to validate the castings and assembly, as well as testing to ensure the components could withstand the extreme alpine conditions. The result is sculptural and functional, allowing resort staff to quickly change out the sign blades as needed and vacationers to easily find their way to the ski lifts or the medical centre. (Design: Buro North. Fabrication: Schiavello Signage. Casting: Mulholland Foundry. Photos: Daniel Colombo)

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no. 31

Short List

Space Odyssey, with Books Who doesn’t love the thought of whiling away a few hours at a cozy, booklined coffee shop, sipping a cappuccino while thumbing through your favorite read of the moment? That’s the idea behind D’Espresso, a new Manhattan hangout on Madison Avenue. Inspired by the famous space stewardess scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as the shop’s location near the Bryant Park branch of the New York Public Library, nemaworkshop (New York) took that theme and flipped it—conceptually as well as literally—on its side. Thanks to sepia-toned, full-sized photographs printed on custom tiles from Imagine Tile, the espresso shop features book-lined shelves on

the floor and ceilings, herringbone-patterned “wood” flooring on the walls, and lighting pendants protruding horizontally from the walls. The custom tiles run along the floor, up the 15-ft. wall, and across the ceiling. Cozy, yes. Trippy, yes. But nemaworkshop and the client hope it makes for an unforgettable brand concept. The next shop, they warn, may be completely upside down. (Design: nemaworkshop. Consultant: Imagine Tile. Lighting: DeLight Inc. Furniture: Colber International. Graphics: Marque Creative. Photos: David Joseph)

segdDESIGN 17

BUILDING VISIONS WITH LED TECHNOLOGY New York City’s iconic One Times Square Tower recently received a next-generation face-lift. News Corporation and Sony, with the help of Winston & Associates, chose Daktronics to manufacture a spectacular spanning 35 feet high by 40 feet wide. Cutting-edge DVX LED video technology makes their display the most visually dynamic and technologically advanced LED board currently installed in Times Square. The new spectacular has brought interactive consumer experiences to an unprecedented level. Times Square pedestrians are routinely invited to send text messages directly to the display, participate in live voting and even real-time PlayStation™ 3 competitions, all broadcast live on the video display. Discover how we can bring your unique vision to reality. Contact Daktronics today!


no. 31

Short List

Novel Approach When the Letterkundig (Literature) Museum in The Hague, Netherlands, undertook a major renovation recently, it assigned OPERA Amsterdam to create a new identity for its collection. The Pantheon is a major exhibition showcasing 1,000 years of Dutch literature. OPERA’s solution gets to the essence of the written word, using layers of projection, sound, animation, and artifacts to reveal the authors’ thought processes and trace how their ideas were transformed into great literature. The exhibit’s backbone is a graphic timeline formed by 100 video screens, each a window to the life and work of a Dutch writer. Films

guide visitors through four themes: creation, polemics, biography, and style. Facsimiles of rare manuscripts, objects owned by the authors, and other artifacts add to the layered presentation. The 630-sq.-meter exhibition was designed to encourage exploration and lure visitors back for multiple visits. Like a great novel, says OPERA Amsterdam, it will reveal new twists with each turn of the page. (Design: OPERA Amsterdam. Construction: Bruns by Bergeijk. Film design: Museumstudio Amsterdam. Technology: VHS Amsterdam. Lighting: Joost de Beij Zaltbommel. Photos: Mike Bink, © OPERA Amsterdam)

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June 1 through 4

1 au 4 juin

2011 SEGD Conference+Expo+Awards Hyatt Regency Montréal Montréal, CANADA

2011 SEGD Conference+Expo+Awards Hyatt Regency Montréal Montréal, CANADA

Ruedi Baur

Garth Walker



Ruedi Baur studied graphic design at the Zurich School of Applied Arts. In 1989 he opened his office, Integral Concept, now a group of five independent

With over 100 awards, 65 magazine features, 28 books, and presenting his work to fellow designers in 21 countries, Garth

studios that often work jointly on cross-disciplinary projects. Intégral Ruedi Baur has been working on 2 and 3-dimensional projects within the different fields of visual communication: identity, orientation and information programs, exhibition design, and urban design. Ruedi Baur teaches at Luxun Academy of Shenyang and the Central Academy of Beijing in China, at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris (ENSAD) in France, and at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK) in Switzerland.

Walker is an internationally recognized, key contributor to South Africa’s emerging post-apartheid graphic design. He started his first firm Orange Juice Design in 1994 when South Africa elected its first democratic government. He now heads Mister Walker in Durban designing everything from packaged goods to websites. Additionally he publishes iJusi, a design magazine about all things South African.


1000 Vermont Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005

20 segdDESIGN

U.S. Citizens! Passports are required for entry to Canada.

vive la diversité Andreas Uebele BÜRO UEBELE

A world renowned designer, Andreas Uebele heads Büro Uebele in Stuttgart, Germany, a visual communication design firm made up of multidisciplinary designers, media engineers and architects. Uebele is also a professor of Communication Design at Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences. Büro Uebele undertakes a vast spectrum of projects from visual identity and print, to signage systems, exhibitions, and web sites. With over 250 international awards, Büro Uebele’s designs can be seen in


An Internationally recognized and published designer, David Gibson studied architecture at Cornell University, attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and received an MFA in graphic design from Yale University. He is the founder and managing principal of Two Twelve, a design firm engaged in high profile, user-centered wayfinding and signage solutions. David Gibson is the author of the award-winning The Wayfinding Handbook: Information Design for Public Places. He also conducts workshops and lectures on the value of wayfinding design across the US and around the world.

design : stellarvisioons

museum collections around the world.

David Gibson

visit >

no. 31 Below: Signage for the Trade Fair and Exhibition Centre Stuttgart (2007) echoes the vibrant energy and hubbub of a place where people meet, talk, and connect. Rainbow-striped signs, bold type, and big walls of color guide visitors through the large facility. (Photo: Roland Halbe)

Up Close

Q. When did you first know that you wanted to be a designer? It happened by coincidence when I was 17 years old. Writing letters to the ladies, it was clear to me that my messages got better results when they were designed well. I designed the envelopes and then I saw that design is something that suits me.

Q. You studied architecture and urban planning as well as art. What pulled you toward graphic design? Andreas Uebele

Architype Andreas Uebele’s work stands at the intersection of architecture, typography, and information design. He’s the rulemaker—and breaker.


n his 2007 book Signage Systems & Information Graphics, Andreas Uebele sets out to explain the rules of sign system design. Then he proceeds to disregard many of them. “No handbook and no instruction manual can do away with the necessity to think for oneself,” he advises. “And every time a rule is broken, it marks a step in the direction of good design.” The work coming out of Uebele’s Stuttgart-based studio, Büro Uebele Visuelle Kommunikation, is known for its clarity, bold use of typography, and willingness to break the rules. Whether he is rendering type on the wavy surface of a guardrail, designing a white-on-white wayfinding system, or providing directional information on floors or ceilings, Uebele seeks solutions tailored to place, brand, and architectural context, not doctrinaire rules. His firm has received more than 270 national and international design awards, including Europe’s prestigious Red Dot Grand Prix for communication design. Uebele will be a keynote speaker at the 2011 SEGD Conference+Expo+Awards June 1-4 in Montreal (http:// He took time recently to talk with segdDESIGN. 22 segdDESIGN

I studied architecture and urban planning at the University of Stuttgart, and art at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design. After my diploma I worked for five years in the office of [prominent deconstructivist architect] Günter Behnisch. Even there, I worked as a graphic designer: I designed a great exhibition about Behnisch’s work, and also designed the catalogue. Typography and graphic design—I cannot explain why I chose it. I also like architecture, product design, fashion design, and literature… but I know that I can do graphic design best.

Left and below left: The Pappas Grupe auto dealership in Salzburg, Germany (2006), is a drive-through sculpture, so Uebele responded with a sign system that provides a guided tour. Destination names such as car wash, service, and sales are rendered on crash barriers. (Photos: Andreas Körner)

Below: At the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück (2004), Uebele created a “sky” of wayfinding information with black type and arrows occasionally interspersed with red “clouds.” (Photo: Andreas Körner)

Q. You often seem to “break the rules” in your work, whether by using type in nontraditional ways or ignoring clients’ edicts (such as redesigning the German Bundestag’s eagle logo). Is rule-breaking a part of your ethos or mission, or does it just seem to happen? Why? Breaking rules is important in design. Nothing new will happen if you accept all the rules. But we don’t break rules because we think it’s funny or exciting. It just happens. When you are working seriously on design, the process leads you to a certain form. The solution is always embedded in the matter (affair/case/object). If we are convinced that the briefing is wrong, we break the rules by designing something unexpected. Sometimes we are lucky; sometimes we lose.

Q. You have done an astonishingly diverse array of projects, from signage and wayfinding for institutions and corporations to a reinterpretation of the visual identity for the German Parliament. What is your favorite type of project or client? I like every project. I like the diversity of thinking in environmental design and corporate design. I like to work with clients who appreciate our efforts to work together on the design process and find a solution to their problem. And I don’t care if the client is little or big, famous or not.

Q. Much of your work is in Germany, which many would consider a relatively controlled and regulated environment for design. Is there a unique zeitgeist or sensitivity to German design, or an affinity to certain ways of working or thinking? German design is ... straight? clear? anyway poetic? powerful? I have no problem saying that our work is a little bit “German.” There is a tradition and you have to accept it, even if you don’t like the controlled and regulated spirit. Our work is in one way very controlled and on the other hand we try to overlay this rigid layer with poetry, which is also a German tradition, even in the south, were I am from. segdDESIGN 23

Right: At Tübingen University, the words of philosopher Hannes Böhringer—“now and then but nonetheless”—are writ large and luminous in the student cafeteria (2009). Colored light sequences add playful nuance to the quote and animate the space. (Photo: Daniel Fels) Below and opposite: For frightened patients and loved ones, hospital environments can seem cold and clinical. Uebele’s signage system for Offenbach Hospital provides bright spots, assigning each destination a combination of color and geometric pattern. Slim aluminum profiles fit seamlessly into a subframe, allowing easy modification. (Photos: Andreas Körner)

Q. Back to diversity—which is the theme of our upcoming conference in Montreal June 1-4. How important is diversity in your studio team and in those you choose to collaborate with?

Q. What inspired you to write a book about wayfinding and signage? What was it like trying to articulate all your years of experience in a book? What did you want to add to the conversation?

We collaborate with philosophers, writers, architects, and artists. It enriches our work. Working with other disciplines, our design gets more subtle and varied. We don’t think that only we have the right answer for design problems.

It was a job—the editor asked me to write a book with clear rules about how to design a wayfinding system (I prefer calling it a signage system). It was the most horrible job for me. I didn’t know how to do that. As I mentioned, it is necessary to break rules. How could I write a book of rules? Three years went by without any layout or design, and the editor became nervous. Then I wrote down all my thoughts about color, typography and so on. Once the concept of the book was clear, the design was easy. It took two years more to finish it.

Q. What is your design philosophy...what principles guide your studio’s work? To be authentic, faithful, and honest.

Q. What do you mean by faithful? Don’t design things! Don’t even think you can design something. Try to look to the object or to the matter and listen to what the matter is. You can only give form to the object. 24 segdDESIGN

Q. As the world becomes increasingly technology-driven, complex, and fast-paced, how do you cope with the demands of shorter project timeframes and the pressure to create good design ever faster? Working fast is okay.

Q. Really? You like it fast? Well, what do you find most challenging about the work you do today, versus how you worked 10 or 20 years ago? Are clients different, are their expectations different? Yes, I think working fast is good training. The more you do, the faster you have ideas. I don’t see any difference in clients now from 10 years ago. Clients want good work, and there is no excuse for ugly or bad design. We can say no.

Q. So given how complex and crazy the world is, and how complicated our built environments are, is this a prescription for the kind of clarity and simplicity your work delivers? There is no prescription. We try to avoid it. Listen to the matter‌

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MontrĂŠal Inside Out The publisher of Quebecâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s urban design magazine shows us his Montreal, from historic signs and pothole art to the revitalized Quartier des Spectacles. By Wendy Helfenbaum

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MONTREAL has long been a world-class design mecca. In 2006, it became the first North American city to join the UNESCO City of Design network. Here, design is not just for show, but a way to channel a unique, vibrant energy, a certain joie de vivre that bursts with creativity and a bilingual entrepreneurial spirit. There’s always an edgy buzz on the city’s streets, a tingle of excitement that can be felt year-round in its arresting visual art, graphic design, and urban signage. We asked Philippe Lamarre, publisher of Urbania magazine (and principal of Montreal creative studio Toxa) to share his favorite examples of Montreal’s design ethos. In the eight years since he launched Urbania and its accompanying interactive television series (, Lamarre has helped Quebecers discover many little-known or underappreciated gems throughout the province.

Quartier des Spectacles: luminous moments captured in time


ontreal’s newly defined and revitalized entertainment hub, located just east of the downtown core, is home to several dozen performance venues—theatres, bars, cafés, and nightclubs—that provide a wide range of entertainment night and day. This square-kilometer area hosts the city’s famed cultural events and summer festivals, which draw more than five million people each year. Since 2002, the neighborhood has been the site of an economic, urban, and cultural redevelopment guided by an integrated vision. Renowned Swiss designer Ruedi Baur and Montreal designer Jean Beaudoin created a visual identity for the neighborhood and have directed a dynamic urban lighting plan that explores how light creates signage while expressing identity. Working with Montreal lighting designer Axel Morgenthaler, Baur and Beaudoin have seamlessly blended lighting and Opposite: Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles is undergoing a revitalization that uses light as its primary medium. Designers Ruedi Baur and Jean Beaudoin (Intégral) conceived a dynamic urban lighting plan that includes a new “luminous pathway” of red dots that lead to major cultural hotspots. (Photos these two pages: Martine Doyon, Partenariat du Quartier des Spectacles)

graphic design to capture the joyous vibe outside dozens of cultural venues. The Quartier des Spectacles’ “Luminous Pathway”—a trail of red dots leading to many of the city’s top cultural venues— highlights the district’s cultural diversity while respecting the environment, explains Beaudoin. “Light rises from the theaters and pulses to the rhythm of cultural activities (in

real time), lending an identity to a whole neighborhood and revealing its very essence. Light follows life.” A double line of lighted red dots creates a whimsical, vibrant red carpet that extends the halls of the cultural venues onto the street. “The dots acknowledge Montreal’s old Red Light district that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century in the same area,”

explains Beaudoin, adding that the dots’ dynamic, pulsating nature showcases the city’s ever-changing urban landscape. “Dynamic lighting is an exceptional tool to unveil the diversity of the district’s visual identity and its events, because it enables us to design different moments, such as movies, plays, dance performances, exhibitions, and contemporary and digital art,” adds Beaudoin.

Top: La Vitrine, the ticket venue at Places des Arts on SainteCatherine Street, sports an interactive LED installation by lighting designer Axel Morgenthaler with Moment Factory.

Above: The district is also exploring the possibilities of light for creating signage. A recent pilot project experimented with projecting directional information onto the pavement at key intersections.

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Roadsworth: making his mark on Montreal streets


en years ago, Roadsworth, aka Peter Gibson, began painting bicycle symbols around the streets of Montreal to protest the city’s lack of cycling paths. What began as activism—Gibson was arrested for vandalizing city property—quickly turned into highly respected art as Roadsworth, now an internationally acclaimed “artist’s artist,” waged a three-year campaign of illegal art installations (with the unwavering support of Montreal’s arts community) to spark discussions about art and authority. The subject of an award-winning documentary, Roadsworth: Crossing the Line, Gibson’s work continues to highlight the debate between art and freedom of expression. His now-iconic images— the giant white footprint, the electric plug, the row of bullets— incorporate his own brand of street markings and other elements of the urban landscape. “I use paint, stencils, and other materials to create site-specific, legal and illegal interventions that produce brief narratives and visual puns,” explains Gibson, who is currently working on an indoor sculptural installation using recycled materials. “Street art, for me, is a way to connect with a city and the people, landscape, architecture, and history that make up a city’s soul. In that sense, the work that I do in Montreal is intimately connected and therefore quintessentially ‘Montreal.’”

Activist/street artist Roadsworth (aka Peter Gibson) creates site-specific legal and illegal interventions to make his point. (Photos: Peter Gibson)

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Street art, for me, is a way to connect with a city and the people, landscape, architecture, and history that make up a city’s soul.”

Aires Libres: celebrating diversity, diversions, and design


illed as an “eco-artistic happening” in Montreal’s Gay Village, Aires Libres (“Free Spaces”) debuted in the summer of 2008, temporarily turning several blocks of Sainte-Catherine Street, just east of the downtown core, into a car-free pedestrian zone jam-packed with cutting-edge art, theater, music, and activities that celebrate freedom within the creative forces of the city. The goal? To promote the gay village while revitalizing the area and providing merchants with greater visibility. In 2009, design agency Paprika Communications chose a clothespin to anchor its concept, “A great time to hang out.” Workers strung up clotheslines throughout the site, while giant clothespins welcomed visitors and stenciled clothespins transformed the streets underfoot. In 2010, the area was transformed into a hanging rose garden. Free outdoor environmentally themed activities for all ages add to the site’s appeal each summer.

For the “eco-artistic” event called Aires Libres (“Free Spaces”), Paprika Communications created a theme around “A great time to hang out.” Giant clothespins and “clothes” cut from recycled banner material transformed the streets in Montreal’s Gay Village. (Photos: Louis Gagnon)

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The Montreal Signs Project


oncordia University professor Matt Soar has a thing for Montreal’s vintage signs. He’s gathered a likeminded group—the Montreal Signs Project—to save treasured historic signs from the scrapheap “through vigilance, persistence, and sheer luck.” “I actually began the project in 2004 as a critique of the over-abundance of advertising in Montreal, including very poorly designed signs. Some older signs are clearly worth saving; over time, they’ve become lightning rods for a multitude of personal memories of life in the city,” explains Soar, adding that his team only intervenes to save signs that are unique to Montreal. “After all, so many signs these days are generic; they can literally be seen all over the world.” Soar’s latest project is saving Montreal’s iconic Farine Five Roses sign, which has presided over the city’s skyline since 1948 and will likely be torn down now that the brand is owned by Smuckers. “The website includes a history of the sign, ways for people to contribute (e.g., anagrams, sketches), and my own whimsical ideas about how to recycle the 15-foot high letters when the sign comes down one day,” adds Soar. Matt Soar, a professor at Concordia University, leads the Montreal Signs Project, a group dedicated to saving treasured historic signs. The group is currently trying to preserve the heritage of the iconic Farine Five Roses sign, which has been a part of the Montreal skyline since 1948. (Five Roses Photo: Éric Constantineau) (Shaw Photo: Russ Cooper, ©Concordia University)

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The website includes a history of the sign, ways for people to contribute (e.g., anagrams, sketches), and my own whimsical ideas about how to recycle the 15-foot high letters when the sign comes down one day.”

Borduas mural: design, poetry, and “organized chaos”


o commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of renowned Canadian abstract painter Paul-Émile Borduas, Montreal public art nonprofit MU commissioned a mural to dress the wall of downtown Montreal’s Grande Bibliothèque du Québec. Graphic designer Thomas Csano and calligrapher Luc Saucier combined visual elements of six different Borduas works. “Balancing creation and communication, merging graphic design and visual arts, my job is not work, it’s a game of organizing chaos,” explains Csano. “The passageway is called ‘Paul-Émile Borduas,’ but it wasn’t marked. MU (a non-profit organization that promotes and supports public art by commissioning murals), wanted to use the walls to honor his legacy. His art and poetry inspired me to create the mural. Montreal is an open city, a creative laboratory where exploration is permitted. It inspires me and many others to action with a free spirit; the art we do is probably colored with this energy.” A mural honoring the 50th anniversary of the death of renowned Canadian abstract painter Paul-Émile Borduas was commissioned for the passageway outside Montreal’s Grande Bibliotheque du Quebec on SaintDenis Street. It combines visual elements of six Borduas pieces. (Images: Thomas Csano)

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Turning potholes into art


ontreal’s world-class potholes are the butt of many jokes and the bane of every city driver’s existence. Two young artists, filmmaker Davide Luciano and writer/ photographer Claudia Ficca, decided to have a little fun and turn them into art. Gathering up willing friends and family, Luciano and Ficca staged elaborate vignettes that celebrate Montreal’s deepest potholes. They created www. to showcase their work, which soon grew to include images shot in Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles. “Montreal is a beautiful city that happens to be potholeridden,” says Luciano. “Because Montrealers love to hate potholes, we wanted to create a humorous photographic series that made the viewer look at the pothole under a new light.” Luciano’s favorite image is the first one they took. “‘Laundry’ encapsulates the essence of an old-world sexy Italian woman,” he explains. “’The Diver’ is very powerful and realistic, subtle but to the point.” In homage to Montreal’s infamous potholes, filmmaker Davide Luciano and writer/photographer Clauda Ficca created elaborate vignettes and showcase them on www. (Photos: Claudia Ficca and Davide Luciano)

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Because Montrealers love to hate potholes, we wanted to create a humorous photographic series that made the viewer look at the pothole under a new light.”

The Mount Royal Cross: Montreal landmark shines on


hen this iconic illuminated metal structure—perched atop Montreal’s Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Mount Royal Park overlooking the east end of Montreal—was first installed in 1924, the 120 light bulbs on either side had to be changed by hand. A beacon of Montreal’s urban landscape that can be seen from 130 miles away, the nearly 100-ft.-tall cross was built to commemorate the one erected in 1643 by the Governor of the Island, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, to thank God for saving Montreal from severe flooding. Now owned by the city, the cross was converted to fiberoptic light in 1992, and was

Top: Montreal’s iconic Mount Royal Cross has perched atop Mount Royal Park overlooking the east end of the city since 1924. Its lighting has changed over the years from the original incandescent bulbs to fiberoptics and now LEDs installed in 2009, but it remains a beacon of the city’s urban landscape. (Photo: Philippe Lamarre)

treated to a swanky LED facelift in 2009. The LED conversion not only saves energy, but allows the cross to glow in a wide range of colors in addition to its traditional white.

Rose-Marie Goulet: haunting urban interventions


fixture on the public art scene since the early 1980s, Rose-Marie Goulet’s work captured worldwide attention with her evocative 1999 granite, steel, and grass sculptural tribute to the 14 women gunned down during the massacre at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989 (Nef pour 14 reines/Nave for 14 queens). Since then, more than 20 of her installations across the city have garnered multiple awards and accolades from the design world. Goulet refers to her installations as “urban interventions/integrations.”

For her 2009 piece, La (les) leçon(s) plurielles(s) (Multiple lessons), commissioned by the historic Théâtre Denise-Pelletier, Goulet chose to incorporate a canonic text about the history of contemporary theatre. “The idea in this piece was to remember my own feelings being exposed to theatre as a child. The verbal flight of this quasi-classic text—at once absurd and silly—struck me

not just as text, but also as a theatrical set. My plan consisted of integrating explicit stage directions throughout these words. Each of these directions serves to build objects or places that the author refers to in his work. The words literally form the object or the site.” Wendy Helfenbaum is a writer and television producer based in Montreal.

Above: For her 2009 piece, La (les) leçon(s) plurielles(s) (Multiple lessons), commissioned by the historic Théâtre Denise-Pelletier, artist Rose-Marie Goulet dramatically superscaled a canonic text about the history of contemporary theatre. (Photo: Michel Dubreuil)

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Signs of Change A small project for Montreal’s city-owned recycling centers teaches a large lesson about sustainability. By Pat Matson Knapp


hen you’re designing signs for a network of recycling centers, it’s probably a given that they’ll be created using recycled materials and environmentally friendly processes. So it’s no surprise that new signs for Montreal’s Écocentres—recycling drop-off sites located around the island— are made from retired roadway signs. But for the design team, Montreal firm Louis-Charles Lasnier Atelier, finding a sustainable solution to their client’s problem was less about materials and processes than it was about making sure they did the right project the first time around. “Even if we hadn’t used old signs, the process was sustainable,” says Louis-Charles Lasnier. By relentlessly questioning the initial brief, using the design process to clarify operational issues, and involving Écocentre employees, the team developed a solution that improves visibility and efficiency at the sites now and for the next 20 years.

Sustainability Department

Montreal’s five existing Écocentres were originally owned and operated by different municipalities, but since the island-wide merger in 2002, their operation was taken over by the Ville de Montreal, eventually landing in its Sustainable Development and Environment Department. The client’s initial brief called for a sign program that could be rolled out across all five sites within a year, making the centers as self-serve and user-friendly as possible. The goal, says Julie Millette, research officer in the Sustainable Development and Environment Department, was for residents to be able to visit any of the sites and quickly understand how they operate and where to drop off various kinds of materials. “Operationally, it’s key for people to know that ‘Here is the bin where you drop off old lumber,’ or “Here is where we put metals or plastics,’” explains Millette. “If bins are contaminated with the wrong material, our vendors may refuse to accept them or charge us a higher price.” The tricky part is that the drop-off locations change as bins are filled and emptied. “So the challenge for the designers was to create something that can adapt every day and even a few times a day.” 38 segdDESIGN

ÉCOCENTRE Client Ville de Montreal Location Montreal Design Atelier Louis-Charles Lasnier Design Team Louis-Charles Lasnier (creative director), Mathieu Cournoyer (graphic designer, producer), Maud-Fred Côté-Leblanc (industrial designer) Fabrication Pierre Fournier (sculptor, fabricator); Boris Dempsey, Paul Duchaine (fabricators); Silkscreening and Painting Workshop, Ville de Montréal (painting, finishing) Photos Bryan K. Lamonde

Far left: The three-sided, sculptural 8-ft.-wide by 12-ft.-tall entry monuments are fashioned from old roadway signs, wrapped around and screwed to an aluminum framework. Only the panels containing the Écocentre lettermark are new; the rest come from the city’s plentiful stockpile of retired road signs. The lettermark designed by Lasnier, using Neville Brody’s FF Pop typeface, has since been adopted as the centers’ identity. Above: The fronts of the old signs were scraped and sanded to accept new paint and vinyl lettering, but the backsides were left alone, revealing their past histories. Left: For sculptor and fabricator Pierre Fournier, assembling the entry panels from available signs is like putting together a puzzle. No two are exactly alike.

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Asking the right questions

Before developing a proposal for the city, the Lasnier team did its homework, visiting the five sites and asking a lot of questions. “Often, the client didn’t have the answers,” recalls Lasnier. For example, the team wondered, how could signs streamline the process for users? Should the project involve a new identity for the sites, some of which are more than a decade old? Should each site have its own signage solution, or was a uniform system more appropriate? And how did the city see the sites operating in five, 10, or even 20 years? By talking with administrators and with Écocentre employees, the team found that because they had historically been managed by different municipalities, each site had its own way of doing things. Consequently, there were wide variations in schedules, fees, and operations from one to the next. One element was consistent among them, however: Écocentre employees were key ambassadors to proper recycling. The designers also identified a distinct lack of consensus about how operations could be improved. To gather input, they designed an informal employee survey, “which allowed us to get a broad range of resources involved in the decision-making process,” notes Lasnier. Based on the survey results, Lasnier proposed that instead of rolling out a sign program at all five sites, they launch a pilot project at just one. “That way, the risk was low and we had the time to implement it over the winter, when there was less construction activity going on, and learn from the process.” The city agreed. Resisting “the tyranny of green”

Based on their research, the Lasnier team concluded that the sign system had to make the recycling process—and the locations of bins for various materials—as clear and user-friendly as possible. Before they could do that, though, they needed to make the centers themselves more visible. Écocentres are located off the beaten path, often on vacant lots or in spaces left over from rail yards. Existing signage looked “generic” and blended with the trees planted to make the sites literally look more green. “Of course someone thought the signs should also be green,” laughs Lasnier. “There is a certain ridiculous tyranny that if you are doing an ecological project, everything has to be green.” Lasnier’s first step was to make sure customers know when they’ve arrived. And his approach was bold: use red because it’s attentiongetting, dynamic, and suggestive of tools. Reuse old roadway signs, which are recyclable and in plentiful supply. And create a large, sculptural element that provides an unforgettable identity. At 14 ft. high and 8 ft. wide, the resulting entry panels are actually larger than city ordinances allow, “but the scale needed to reflect the scale of what’s behind it,” explains Lasnier. The modular, three-sided structures recall the work of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, with blocks of color provided by assorted street signs wrapped around and screwed to an aluminum framework. The fronts of the signs were scraped and sanded to accept new paint and lettering, but in a clever nod to the function of the sites, the backsides were left alone, revealing their past histories for visitors to enjoy.

Top: Uniforms for Écocentre employees also act as signage for the sites. Although uniforms are not required of city employees, the subcontractors who operate the recycling centers for Ville de Montreal embraced them.

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Right: 12-ft-tall, bright red mast signs with waterjet-cut numbers act as beacons, guiding users to designated drop-off areas.

Project fabricator Pierre Fournier is a sculptor who works with whatever signs are available, coordinating with the city employee who stockpiles them once they’ve been taken off the streets. “Luckily, Pierre was open enough to the process that he was willing to recompose whatever signs are available into each structure, much like building a puzzle,” notes Lasnier. Lasnier designed a distinct Écocentre lettermark using the typeface FF Pop by Neville Brody, as well as a system of simple pictograms—three that indicate what you cannot do on the sites (no smoking, no yelling, no idling your vehicle) and “to be fair,” laughs Lasnier, three things that you can do (cycle, walk, and bring your kids with you). Ville de Montreal has since adopted the lettermark as the centers’ overall identity.

Of course someone thought the signs should also be green,” laughs Lasnier. “There is a certain ridiculous tyranny that if you are doing an ecological project, everything has to be green.”

Left: The reverse sides of the mast signs are also left alone, providing an interesting backstory to their present use. Below: Lasnier designed six pictograms, three indicating what visitors to the site cannot do and three showing what they are encouraged to do. Sign text is in French only, so Lasnier minimized the words. The bright “toolchest” red was chosen to create a bold identity and contrast with the plantings on the sites. To ensure it stays bright, Lasnier worked with a body shop to test various water-based paints used in the auto industry. They also specified environmentally preferable clearcoat and anti-graffiti lacquers to maintain its shine.

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Right: 16- by 16-in. magnetic signs witih waterjet-cut numbers can be changed quickly as bins are filled and emptied. Below: Lasnier also designed numbered identity signs for the barracks-style buildings where items can be dropped off for reselling.

Signs of efficiency

Once inside the site, users face a vast lot studded with huge recycling bins. In the past, the centers relied heavily on employees to direct customers to the right locations, using a combination of verbal directions, numbering for large bins, and some word signs. Handmade signs often cropped up to fill the communication gaps. During the pilot phase, Lasnier refined the system to minimize container contamination and improve efficiency. Rather than using less flexible word signs, the numbering system was extended to all the bins, from massive building materials to old toys dropped off for charity. Employees are still a key part of the communication, but the simplified numbers-only system is broadcast on a large, changeable directory sign centrally located on the site. The team initially designed numbered tearsheets to reinforce the bin numbering, “but people were uneasy about having a piece of paper that was only going to be used once, so we opted for just the directory sign,” says Lasnier. Onsite, users consult the directory sign for the numbers of their destination bins. Bright red, 12-ft.-tall mast signs with waterjet-cut 42 segdDESIGN

numbers—again fabricated from old road signs—are visible beacons across the lot, acting as general area markers. To unmistakably label the individual bins and allow for changes as the containers are filled and emptied, Lasnier designed 16- by 16-in. magnetic signs with waterjet-cut numbers. Additional signs number the small barracksstyle buildings where household items, toys, and clothing are dropped off and resold. Millette says the pilot project was a big success, showing that effective signage could clarify and even improve the efficiency of the Écocentre operations. Based on user surveys, some of the signs were enlarged to be more visible on the sites. The system has been implemented at the four other existing Écocentres, and will be used at a new center opening in 2011, as well as up to eight more sites by 2015. For Lasnier, it was a small but complex project that required working with stakeholders, selling the solution to numerous committees, and ultimately, designing a sustainable solution—one that would work now as well as 20 years from now.

2/90 Design Award 2010 Announcement


Pictos Vivants Giant 3D pictograms and fresh new signage beckon visitors to the Montreal Science Centre. By Pat Matson Knapp

A pair of giant three-dimensional pictograms—this one almost 13 ft. high and 14-ft. across—lures visitors to explore the Montreal Science Centre, located in the Old Port of Montreal. Opposite: 12-ft.-high curved aluminum pylons are topped with 3-ft.-diameter red disks bearing pictograms for major attractions and amenities. Minimal text is provided in English and French.

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ince it opened in 2000, the Montreal Science Centre has become a major attraction along the Old Port of Montreal, drawing more than 7 million visitors so far to explore science and technology through its interactive exhibits. Like many science museums, it gets its share of school traffic, particularly teen-agers arriving by the yellow busloads. But for other visitors, many touring the Old Port for the day, the center’s location on one of the harbor’s long piers creates a barrier. Its challenge was to lure visitors down the long expanse and, once they arrive, point them to the site’s major attractions, including exhibits, an I-Max theater, boutiques, and restaurants. This was the job assigned to Montreal-based Bélanger Branding Design. Bélanger’s goals were to use integrated branding, graphics, and signage to unify the long narrow site and the center’s two buildings, guide visitors to the amenities, and reinforce its brand as a leading science and technology destination.

Funny giants

The center already had the beginnings of a strong brand: the red molecule that appears as sculpture at the main entrance and on its website, letterhead, and other materials. The Bélanger team was happy to co-opt the energetic color, particularly since it would contrast well with the pale blue sign program for the Old Port (which Bélanger also designed) and differentiate the center from other Old Port destinations. Used judiciously, it adds pops of brightness to the site’s industrial palette of concrete, steel, and glass. To lure visitors down the pier, the Bélanger team knew it needed sculptural elements scaled to attract attention. “We thought about pots of flowers, stars and moons, or science-related elements, but every time we presented our concepts to the clients, the committee couldn’t agree,” says Jules Bélanger, president. Then the team began exploring human figures, eventually creating a playful cast of pictogram-inspired characters. These “funny giants”

became the basis for the site branding, and Belanger recommended placing 12 of them around the site. Just two of the galvanized-steel sculptures were fabricated and installed: a 13-ft.-tall, 14-ft.-wide, kneeling figure looking through a telescope and a figure tumbling over the railing of a pedestrian footbridge. And while more of the figures would create greater impact, Bélanger admits, the bright red giants are cheerful additions to the industrial site and visually link to the new signage system. Installing the figures was tricky, particularly when project fabricator Enseignes Perfection (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec) needed to attach one of them to the overhead footbridge connecting the center’s two buildings. “We had to make sure that the ‘bonhomme’ was spaced from the handrail and fixed on the concrete structure with spacers, without damaging the handrail,” explains Alain Dupuis, vice president. The installation was done with a 65-ft. crane and the “giant” was fixed with 3/8- by 7-in. anchor nut bolts. segdDESIGN 45

A series of wayfinding pylons runs the length of the center’s façade, providing a running menu of attractions and guiding visitors to specific entrances.

Project fabricator Enseignes Perfection used a 65-ft. crane to install the “falling” picto-giant on an overhead footbridge. The largest of the galvanized-steel icons weighs 1,000 pounds.

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Branding attractions

The center had made do with minimal signage since its opening, but the Old Port of Montreal Corporation was increasingly hearing complaints from visitors and from the retail tenants on site. “Key functions like the box office and restaurants weren’t marked, so people didn’t know where to go,” says Alexandra Jonnaert, marketing advisor for the Old Port of Montreal. New signage needed to identify key services, including the site’s 15 boutiques and nine restaurants. The center’s main building is long and has several possible entrances, so Belanger focused on creating a promenade of pylon signs that show visitors the exact entrance they should use to access the services they want. The 12-ft.-high, curved-aluminum pylons are topped with 3-ft.-diameter red disks bearing pictograms representing major amenities. Marching along the front of the building, they provide a running menu of attractions, making sure visitors can see what’s available to them. Vehicle-oriented wayfinding consists of overhead directionals mounted to original steel pier framework, their attachments painted red and destinations in vinyl on aluminum bands. Jonnaert says the new signage has made a huge impact. “People can clearly see where they need to go, whether it’s the box office or the boutiques. It really has helped people to know the science center better.” Universal language

Because Bélanger had done the signage program for the entire harbor, they knew its visitor population is international—and multilingual. Language is a complex issue in Quebec: while the federal government requires signage to be in English and French, the provincial Quebec government mandates French only. Since the science center is located on federal government-owned land, bilingual signage was required. The Bélanger team’s solution to this sometimes politically charged issue was threefold: use pictograms to the extent possible, minimize text, and when text is necessary, provide it in English and French. “Our answer was using pictograms as much as possible to make the signs easier to understand and less stressful for everyone,” says Bélanger.

MONTREAL SCIENCE CENTRE SIGNAGE AND BRANDING Location Montreal Client Montreal Science Centre Design Bélanger Branding Design Design Team Anick Blais (principal in charge), Jules Bélanger (senior designer), Julie Margot (senior graphic designer), Martin Racine (technical designer), Anouck Giguère (assistant designer)

Above: Overhead directionals guide visitors to parking and specific attractions and amenities on site. Red footings attached to the pier’s existing steel structure add a pop of the center’s signature red. Right: To help guide the Old Port’s international, multilingual visitors, Bélanger Branding maximized pictograms and minimized text.

Fabrication/Suppliers Enseignes Perfection (project fabricator), AkzoNobel (paint/finishes), 3M (vinyl) Photos Bélanger Branding Design

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This page: Metal cargo ship containers were retrofitted as summer boutiques. Lined up in a row along the pier and bordering the center’s parking lot, they also serve as a giant billboard thanks to bold vinyl graphics.

Containing commerce

The science center also asked for Bélanger’s help in branding and revitalizing the site’s commercial promenade, a row of boutiques open from May through October. The original concept was to have inexpensive kiosks built, but the Bélanger team suggested that since the boutiques are located on the harbor, why not leverage the vernacular by transforming old shipping containers into service as shops? So 18 of the big metal containers—the kind designed to fit into the holds of huge cargo ships—were painted red and retrofitted as boutiques, complete with awnings, lighting, built-in shelving, and cutouts for sliding doors. The designers also made the most of the boutique exteriors: Lined up along the pier and bordering a section of the center’s parking lot, they created a unique opportunity for highvisibility graphics. So a series of port-inspired pictograms are rendered in white on the bright red containers, creating a huge billboard for the “Alley of Boutiques.” Thanks to the new branding and signage program, the science center is easier for visitors to locate, pedestrian traffic is more fluid, and visitors have a better overall experience, says Jonnaert. “We had this huge building but people didn’t even know what it contained. The new signage system managed to resolve the problem and it has really made a difference.”

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Remembering Expo 67

Montreal’s international exposition helped shape an emerging discipline called environmental graphic design. And it left indelible marks on the lives of up-and-coming designers. Two of them share their memories. By David Gibson and Sue Gould

David Gibson


y journey began in Montreal, in a conventional Canadian middle class Anglo-Saxon family. We lived in the comfortable English precincts of what was then the leading city in Canada. Montreal was first settled by Europeans in the early 1600s, and tangible physical evidence of each of the centuries since then remains a part of the city’s fabric. I love the city streets, the public infrastructure, the neighborhoods, the images, and the layers that history has painted on the urban canvas. Montreal was and is a beautiful example of that rich artistry.  I was in the tenth grade, near the end of high school, when Expo 67 opened on a series of islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. At high schools in the 1960s, design was certainly not in the curriculum and the topic was never discussed. So when I visited Expo 67 for the first time, a whole new world opened up to me. I saw how type and color, form and scale, image and motion could be used to create a grand public experience. This late-60s cultural and media bazaar interrupted my nearly inevitable trajectory to the corporate executive suite (the typical fate of young Canadians of my ilk) and laid the groundwork for my professional career.

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This international design extravaganza was a textbook of the SEGD story: architecture, signs, spaces, places, images, ideas, the medium AND the message. It was optimistic and dazzling. My friends and I traveled to the fair 30 or 40 times on Montreal’s brand new subway, riding the gorgeous blue Metro cars gliding on rubber wheels over sturdy concrete rails, and arriving with an unforgettable delicious whoosh at the Expo stop. We disembarked, showed our passports, and then boarded the monorail to travel the world. My experience of this new infrastructure—with its associated logos, maps, and station architecture—helped to inspire my fascination with the design of public systems. Moshe Safdie’s remarkable Habitat building blocks, Buckminster Fuller’s beautiful geodesic dome filled with Chermayeff & Geismar’s dramatic exhibit, the Russian pavilion, the Czech pavilion, the Brits, the Thais, the French. On and on it went. We saw movies and images and artifacts that we stay-at-home central Canadians had never before imagined. Just four months after the fair closed, I left Montreal when my father’s job took us to New York. Expo quickly receded as I embarked on the next stage of my journey. I had a new city to explore and a career in design to launch.

Above: Expo 67 was a morale booster for Montreal and for Canada, which was also celebrating its centennial. (Photo: ©National Archives of Canada)

Opposite top: Expo 67 has been called perhaps the best world exposition architecturally. Moshe Safdie’s ambitious Habitat 67 modular housing is one of the expo landmarks that remain. (Photo: ©Tourisme Montreal) Opposite bottom: Montreal’s metro system, modeled after the rubbertired system in Paris, opened just in time for Expo 67. (Photo: ©Ron Stern)

This late-60s cultural and media bazaar interrupted my nearly inevitable trajectory to the corporate executive suite (the typical fate of young Canadians of my ilk) and laid the groundwork for my professional career.”

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Remembering Expo 67 Sue Gould


fter graduating from Parson’s Industrial Design Department and summer jobs in the design offices of George Nelson Associates and Albrecht Goertz, I was thrilled to be invited to Montreal to work on Expo 67. My destination was Gagnon-Valkus, a partnership of Louis Gagnon and Jim Valkus, one of those bi-cultural amalgams required to work on the Canadian government pavilions (some of which, in light of the French separatist tensions of the time, were close to shotgun design weddings). Upon arriving in Montreal I was excited to see the office occupied a beautiful old stone house near the waterfront in the old city. A gut renovation had created a thoroughly modern interior in the ancient building. The reception area said it all: two pairs of Mies chairs on either side of a white flokati rug. The loft studio had lovely dormer windows that looked out over Rue St. Paul, winding through the old city. I had never experienced urban renewal with this level of sensitivity—beautiful but derelict old buildings brought back to life, a mixture of working buildings, wholesalers, and galleries. (Adaptive re-use hadn’t yet made it to New York!)

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The week I arrived, the office was abuzz, excited at the launch of their new logo for Hydro-Quebec, the government power company. Their illuminated neon logo high atop the corporate headquarters lit up the city sky. It was a fertile period for Canadian graphic design. A host of distinctive and iconic logos debuted in those years, for CN (the Canadian National Railway), Air Canada, the Canadian Centennial, and Expo 67 itself. 

Left: The U.S. Pavilion was Buckminster Fuller’s largest geodesic dome to date. It’s now the home of the Biosphère, Environment Museum. (Photo: ©Tourisme Montreal) Left: Within Fuller’s dome, Chermayeff & Geismar created the groundbreaking exhibition for the U.S. Pavilion. (Photo: Courtesy Chermayeff & Geismar) Below: The Expo 67 theme “Man and His World” was inspired by French airman and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book of the same title. Montreal artist Julien Hébert designed the symbol, eight groups of twin figures representing mankind in unity, encircling the world. Here, the symbol’s basic unit was interpreted as sculpture. (Photo: ©Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec)

Below: Gould worked in the loft annex set up to house the GagnonValkus design team working on the “Man the Provider” pavilion. It was next to the old city hall on the main thoroughfare of Rue St. Paul, and provided plenty of space for the huge models the design team built. (Photo: Sue Gould)

Our Expo team was sequestered in a loft building down the block from the main office to accommodate our huge models of the multiacre “Man the Provider” site (remember, this was the pre-feminist mid-1960s). The central Sun Acre, which demonstrated all of the crops that could be grown on a single acre of land, was surrounded by a lagoon and pavilions that explained the water cycle, the roles of different crops, and the mechanization of agriculture in Canada. I fell in love with the huge Massey-Ferguson combines and studied ways we could create artificial planted hills with the huge machines pitched up at an angle. A big part of the job was research— including a memorable visit to the government experimental farm in Ottawa to study different crops and their pests.   While in Montreal I met designers from all over the world. It was exciting, and the camaraderie was the best part of the job. One of the key players was Lois Sherr, a

landscape architect who came to work on the fair along with Habitat architect Moshe Safdie. As alumni of Lou Kahn’s Philadelphia office, they brought fresh systems thinking to their efforts. In designing the Expo landscape, Lois pioneered the concept of a consistent and uniform site furniture system with Norman Hayes, who was in charge of the site industrial design. She established the visual image for the site, bringing SEGD pioneer Paul Arthur into the mix, who in turn brought Fritz Gottschalk and Harry Boller to work with him on signage standards for both the Expo site and the new monorail system that traversed the fair. Ironically, I never got to visit Expo after it opened. However, my experiences as a working designer and the ideas that I was exposed to while in Montreal changed my life forever. More than anything, it gave me professional insights and friendships for which I am deeply grateful.

Ironically, I never got to visit Expo after it opened. However, my experiences as a working designer and the ideas that I was exposed to while in Montreal changed my life forever.”

Remembering Expo 67

Above: Expo 67 covered more than 1,000 acres on two islands and a peninsula in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River. Burton Kramer Design (Toronto) designed the wayfinding system. (Image: ©Burton Kramer Design)

David Gibson


efore Expo 67 closed on October 29, 1967, some 50 million people visited the pavilions, toured the exhibits, tasted the food, saw the films. The experience of Expo was a cultural awakening for Canada, but perhaps a bittersweet moment for Montreal. Pierre Trudeau, the glamorous French Canadian prime minister, helped usher in the new Canadian century. Canada debuted a new flag and a new cultural, social, and political confidence. But the 1970s and the 1980s were difficult decades for Montreal. As tensions grew between the English and French communities, the economy changed and a shift began. Toronto asserted its role as the leading Canadian city of business and commerce.  segdDESIGN 53

Below: The Design Intent master plan prepared by a group of Canadian intellectuals (mostly architects and designers) allowed Expo 67 to be implemented quickly and coherently. Paul Arthur was responsible for the Standard Sign Manual. He chose Univers as the font for all signage. (Image: Standard Sign Manual, Expo 67)

Below: The mid-1960s was a fertile time for Canadian design, spawning high-profile identities for companies such as the Canadian National Railway and HydroQuebec.

Montreal has emerged from that period a confident and vibrant city, a gorgeous mix of old and new with historic neighborhoods and modern developments, museums and markets, and great food and a particular sense of style. Montreal is a medical, academic, and high-tech center, and also home to a great tradition of festivals—jazz, comedy, fireworks, and arts. And yes, Montreal has explicitly embraced design: the legacy of Expo 67 endures. The promotion and support of design is now part of the public policy of the City of Montreal.

Left: Arthur also created a set of pictograms, which included (clockwise from left) entrance, exit, no touching, no standing. (Images: Standard Sign Manual, Expo 67)

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Six years after that glorious Expo summer, SEGD was founded in the United States by a group of designers who embraced the spirit of the world’s fair. They envisioned an organization that was dedicated to the design of public spaces and places. They helped create the discipline of environmental graphic design that was explored so remarkably at Expo 67. Design systems, media installations, public signage, dramatic exhibits— these were the elements of Expo and these are the tools of the contemporary professional design practice that SEGD has nurtured and developed. It is fitting that our first international conference be held in a city that has been a cradle of international design.

David Gibson is managing principal of Two Twelve (New York) and author of The Wayfinding Handbook. Sue Gould is president of Lebowitz | Gould | Design (New York).

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Branching Out Hardworking graphics add punch to the community-centered design of the 21st century library. By Jenny S. Reising


hink of a public library, and what comes to mind? Perhaps the redbrick blocks of our youth, where fluorescent lighting cast a yellowish glow and anything above a whisper was strictly taboo? Fast-forward to today, and a slew of newly built libraries are conversation starters, awash in natural light, with vibrant colors and patterns beckoning card-holders to linger and explore. The Seattle Central Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas, revolutionized library design when it opened in 2004. With its unconventional steel-andglass architecture, colorful interior design, and inviting public spaces, the 400,000sq.-ft. building reimagined

the public library as an iconic destination for learning and lounging. Across the pond, London’s Idea Stores—a retailinspired concept for libraries by architect David Adjaye—take cues from their fashionable neighbors, with an emphasis on transparency. After the first Idea Store opened in 2002, library traffic was three times higher than the two libraries it had replaced. Adjaye has since been tapped to design branch libraries in Washington, D.C. What’s driving this sea change in library design from staid to stellar? “Things are changing so fast and people’s expectations of a library and what it needs to be and who it serves are all very dynamic,” says Richard Jensen, vice president of Will Bruder + Partners (Phoenix). When the architecture firm conceptualized the first of

three libraries for the City of Phoenix, building cookiecutter branches was out of the question, and community involvement was key. “We decided that each community should have a say in what they wanted their library to be, then we hired the best architect the budget would allow and got out of the way,” says Shera Farnham, assistant city librarian for the City of Phoenix. As a result, collections have gotten smaller and the libraries have focused on the most sought-after items for each community, reducing the amount of shelving by about a third. More computers and computer training rooms have

been added, open flexible spaces abound, and colorful, comfortable furnishings appeal to all ages. More emphasis is also being placed on signage and environmental graphics. When a bond allowed the Plainsboro Public Library in New Jersey to build larger digs, Library Director Jinny Baeckler made sure there was enough money in the budget for graphics. Circulation rose 13% when a new signage system was installed in the old library, so she understood the value of helping visitors—particularly the community’s large non-English-speaking Asian population—get where they need to go easily. From a budget- and sitechallenged structure in Phoenix to Plainsboro’s not-so-plain new building, here are two shining examples of 21st century libraries.

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58 segdDESIGN

Below: The 207-ft.-long “cowboy front” on the east side of the Agave Public Library is constructed from random hat channels of varying widths and depths that taper from 40 ft. down to 26 ft. to meet zoning ordinance height limitations. The 30-ft.-tall “Agave” graphic consists of straight strips of white, reflective, adhesive-backed 3M vinyl that resemble a barcode.

AGAVE LIBRARY Client Phoenix Public Library Location Phoenix Client Team Shera Farnham, Julaine Warner, Wally Scholz (Phoenix Public Library); Jon Kolstad (City of Phoenix Engineering and Architectural Services Department); Ed Lebow, Donna Isaac (Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program) Design Will Bruder + Partners Design Team Will Bruder (director of design); Richard Jensen (project principal); Chris Balzano, Dominique Price (architects); Marjorie Fichthorn Whitton (interior designer) Fabrication ASI Consultants Kendall Buster (public artist), Roger Smith Lighting Design (lighting), McKay Conant Hoover (acoustics), Ten Eyck Landscape Architecture (landscape architecture), Burgion Group (emerging literacy), Hardison/ Downey Construction (contractor) Photos Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography


ou don’t need a big budget to make a big splash, and the new Agave Library in Phoenix is proof. “This was the last of four libraries built on a bond, and money was running out,” says Richard Jensen, vice president of Will Bruder + Partners. With a budget of just $6.65 million for a 25,400-sq.-ft. building, the architects also had to deal with a less-than-ideal site: the library is situated on a blighted wasteland between a residential neighborhood and a strip mall, and behind a carwash. Never one to balk at a challenge, the Bruder team found the solution in signage—specifically, a modern version of a western cowboy facade that would amplify the library’s visibility while hiding the building’s otherwise nondescript, budget-friendly masonry-block construction. “We knew we had to do something that really stretched out, was big and audacious to reach out to the streets, and that’s what a cowboy front does,” Jensen explains. The 207-ft.-long oversized scrim, which simply declares “Agave,” tapers down from 40 ft. at its peak to 26 ft., deliberately scaled to meet zoning ordinance height limitations as the sign gets closer to the adjacent residential neighborhood. Constructed of randomly placed hat channels of varying widths and depths, faced with white reflective vinyl and illuminated with floodlamps, the billboard/ facade is hard to miss.

We knew we had to do something that really stretched out, was big and audacious to reach out to the streets, and that’s what a cowboy front does.”

Top: A take on movie-theater marquees, the entry sign juts out about 15 ft. from the scrim wall and is fabricated from steel pipe and 10-gauge steel panels.

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Bottom: Signs were used minimally but with impact. A floating cloud installation by artist Kendall Buster stands in for signage over the main information desk. Neon used to illuminate hanging signs adds a colorful pop to the modest materials palette, “like a sprinkling of candy,” says Josh Livingston of fabricator ASI.

According to Josh Livingston, principal at sign fabricator ASI (Oklahoma City), Bruder deserves a lot of credit for getting around sign ordinances by convincing the city that it was public art. Jensen adds, “Typically, you couldn’t get away with this, but it’s a testament to the city’s desire to do great things when it comes to public libraries.” The building is designed with an open, flexible plan and very few walls, allowing for future modularity. Signage is used sparingly but with impact. “We try to do a minimal amount of signage, only where it needs to be,” Farnham explains. “I like to think that the architecture acts as a silent sign.” For example, a cloud-like public art project by Kendall Buster over the information desk draws attention with no words. And because everything is on one floor, wayfinding is more intuitive: main areas are defined by concrete flooring, seating areas are carpeted, and an exterior reading garden is visible through a glass wall. However, where it is used, signage is “like a sprinkling of candy” on an otherwise neutral palette, says ASI’s Livingston. Section signs are constructed of aluminum with neon-lit cutout letters in blue, red, and green. Fabrication and installation elements are exposed rather than hidden because of budgetary restrictions. For example, the neon is

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Below and opposite top: The 42-in.-square, two-sided anodized aluminum signs for restrooms, copy stations, and other library amenities boast cut-out letters and neon, which is visible from the side reveals. Ceiling-hung aircraft cable is strategically arranged to give the signs an organic, sculptural feel.

We try to do a minimal amount of signage, only where it needs to be,” Farnham explains. “I like to think that the architecture acts as a silent sign.”

visible from the side, the screws are exposed, and aircraft cable from the ceiling-hung signs is carefully arranged to lend an organic feel, “like branches from a tree,” according to Jensen. On the door to the children’s “story tower”—a sculptural, white space with colorful LED lighting—each letter in the word “story” is comprised of storybook titles in 10-point type. From a distance, kids only see the word “story.” But up close, the smaller story titles become more visible. Since its 2009 opening, the Agave Library has earned accolades from the design world as well as the community it serves. “It’s very busy, and what I like about it is that each group—adults, teens, kids— has found its place in the library,” Farnham says. In fact, many elements of the library were derived during initial meetings Bruder hosted to gain input from the community. They wanted a comfortable, inviting reading room, an outdoor space that’s part of the indoor building, and the ability to read next to nature. And they got it all. They also got something they didn’t ask for: an extraordinary building. “The ‘wow’ factor is intense. You know you’re not in an ordinary building,” Farnham says. “Everybody has their own space—all in 25,000 sq. ft. behind a carwash.”

Left and above: The 6-ft.-wide “story” graphic on the door leading to the children’s Story Tower is comprised of storybook titles in 10-point type using white epoxy ink. The 20-in.-high letters are placed on a slant from the ground up to encourage little readers to view the titles up close.

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In Vinyl



ot long after the Plainsboro Public Library opened its doors in 1993, it became clear that an upgrade would be needed. “There was no community room, no place to gather, no open reading areas, just stacks of books,” explains Library Director Jinny Baeckler. Additionally, the population was exploding, the Internet was taking off, and the 1,400-sq.-ft. space was poorly signed, too small to accommodate the number of people it served, and technologically unprepared to handle the Internet. When a bond allowed the library to construct a new building, Baeckler had some pretty clear ideas about how the new 45,000-sq.-ft. space could better serve the community. “We wanted a science center because science education is miserable in this country, a dedicated art library to bring quality art to the community, and a health education center where people can calmly access sound information,” she explains. The library also needed plenty of computer table space with easy plug-in capabilities, because most people would rather use their own laptops. It also boasts an Internet café, community auditorium, and outdoor reading garden and terraces.

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This page: Exterior identification signs at the new Plainsboro Public Library feature 1-in.-thick waterjetcut stainless steel letters. For the monolith sign, stainless steel letters were pin-mounted onto a glass tablet with an interlayer that features the first sentences from 300+ favorite books submitted by the community, in the original languages in which the books were written.

Opposite: Poulin + Morris designed the sign and wayfinding system to be bold and visible from across the entire library. Vinyl letters applied to translucent acrylic panels clearly denote the types of books you’ll find in the stacks. Vertical TheSans typeface in upper- and lowercase letters eases readability for the community’s primarily Asian population.

segdDESIGN 63 (Photo: Jeff Green)

Bottom: In a nod to the idea of a “woven community,” circulation desk signs have a patternedacrylic background that connects to textures used on fabrics in the corresponding areas. Letter outlines in brightly colored oversized typography tie into the color of the accent wall behind the desk.

Brian Brindisi, principal-in-charge of the project for Poulin + Morris (New York), also recognized the importance of a clear, comprehensive wayfinding system. Lessons learned from the old library included the need for bold, legible signs that are visible from across the entire space, with elements large enough that staff can point to them from information desks. Color and material choices were driven by the need for a system that’s easy to maintain at minimal cost. Due to the library’s large segment of non-English speaking users, the program needed to be “immediate, intuitive, and visually universal while remaining timeless and in keeping with the community-based mission of the 21st century library,” says Brindisi. Poulin + Morris devised a color-coded wayfinding program using green, red, and yellow to activate the space and relied heavily on vinyl to satisfy budget constraints. Stack ends, for example, are clearly labeled in color-coded vertical vinyl lettering. TheSans typeface in upper- and lowercase letters is used throughout the sign program for ease of readability. And information desks gain graphic appeal via a 3form pattern with vinyl oversized typography.

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We wanted a science center because science education is miserable in this country, a dedicated art library to bring quality art to the community, and a health education center where people can calmly access sound information.”

Right and below: Community members submitted first sentences of their favorite books in languages ranging from English, Hindi, Russian, and Romanian, to Chinese, Arabic, and Korean. The titles were then applied in frosted vinyl onto glass railings, doubling as a vision barrier.

PLAINSBORO PUBLIC LIBRARY Client Plainsboro Public Library Location Plainsboro, N.J. Design Poulin + Morris Design Team Brian Brindisi (design director); Laura Gralnick, Andy Schoonmaker (designers) Fabrication Design Communications Ltd. Consultants BKSK Architects (project architects) Photos Jeffrey Totaro

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It needed to be immediate, intuitive, and visually universal while remaining timeless and in keeping with the communitybased mission of the 21st century library.”

The library’s glass stairwell and balcony rail overlooking the main reading room also created a unique graphic opportunity. “We knew a vision barrier would be required on the glass in order to meet code requirements, and we wanted to take a very non-traditional approach that celebrates the written word,” Brindisi explains. In a community-based gesture, library users were invited to submit first sentences of their favorite books in the original language in which the books were written. About 300 first sentences were printed in frosted vinyl and applied to the glass, resulting in a sandblasted look. Those first sentences also appear as a typographic backdrop on the exterior monolith sign. “What I thought was unique and one of the more joyful parts of the interior was the use of vinyl,” says Peter Haas, senior project manager for fabricator Design Communications Ltd. However, fabricating and installing all that vinyl within a short, two-month timeframe was challenging. Gaps in the railings had to be carefully measured to ensure no words were broken up during installation. And for some sign elements, particularly the information desks, three or four layers of vinyl had to be applied, leaving no room for error. Although Baeckler lost her bid for ceiling-hung supermarket-type signs—the lighting system precluded their installation—she is thrilled with the results. And the 1,000-plus daily visitors are a good indication that the building is serving the community’s needs. “The sign program is very striking and well integrated; it hits you as soon as you enter the building,” she says. “The designers really listened to what we were saying, and what they came back with was beyond-belief fabulous.” Jenny Reising is a Cincinnati-based design writer and editor.

Top: A wide range of amenities— including an Internet café, auditorium, children’s science center, and classrooms—supports the library’s role as a community center. Right: Color-coded floor-level directories (in painted acrylic with vinyl typography) use TheSans typeface, selected for its legibility across the library floor.

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Agave Library — Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Children’s Hospital - NICU — Phoenix, AZ

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center — Omaha, NE

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In Transition M

Breaking out of their role as generic waystations, airports are creating compelling experiences with public art, interpretive storytelling, and environmental graphics. By Jennifer Volland

any of us are filled with dread at the thought of having to spend an inordinate amount of time at an airport. We try to plan our arrival just right, negotiating road conditions, check-in lines, security procedures, restroom stops, and quick caffeine fixes. If we cruise up to the gate just as we hear our boarding call announced over the loudspeakers, we’ve won a major victory. In reality, this scenario rarely transpires. Instead we spend countless minutes and hours pacing the hallways of a non-descript terminal until we board our flight, resolved to coordinate better next time. Part of the problem is that we perceive airports solely as places of transition. And that is typically how airports have been presented: as functional, utilitarian structures that facilitate the movement of people from one activity to the next. But if we have to pass time at airports—and we increasingly do—our experiences might as well be enjoyable. Fortunately for travelers, this idea is gaining momentum, and it isn’t limited to the typical retail and restaurant offerings. “A lot of airports

are trying to do more than just sell people overpriced water,” says Isaac Marshall, principal of AldrichPears Associates (Vancouver). Airports such as San Francisco International have been creating immersive experiences on airport for years. The SFO Museum was the first cultural institution of its kind located in an international airport. Today, SFO offers an aquarium, an aviation library and museum, and numerous art and photo exhibits for the 30 million passengers who use the airport each year. Working on their own variations of this model, the Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport and Vancouver International Airport have also envisioned comprehensive experiences for users and visitors. Using public art, interpretive storytelling, and environmental graphics, they’ve created experiences that provide a compelling sense of place, promote the cultural and intellectual assets of their regions, and transcend the expected role of generic waystation. In the process, they create impressions that just might outlast the memories of long waits in the security line.

Opposite: Responding to the transmission of real-time weather data, eCloud mimics the shifting volume and behavior of a real cloud. The dynamic nature and linear configuration of the piece reinforce visitors’ movement through the concessions area and down the long concourse. (Photos: Spencer Lowell)

Above: Hands, an iconic mural on the 1,200-ft. façade of San Jose International Airport’s new Terminal B parking garage, is the most prominent artwork in SJC’s new Art + Technology program. Created by artist Christian Moeller in collaboration with Fentress

Architects, it depicts the hands of 53 Silicon Valley residents in universal gestures of greeting. The image appears on 350,000 plastic pixels snapped to architectural metal mesh. (Photo: Nick Merrick © Hedrich Blessing/Fentress Architects)

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Below: When SJC visitors engage with Björn Schülke’s Space Observer, a 26-ft.-tall piece standing on 8-ft. tripod legs, it quietly rotates with the help of two propeller-tipped arms, using its kinetic camera to reveal live images. The airport’s new public art program explores the interactivity between humans and modern technology. (Photo: Björn Schülke)




hile improving the airport environment with public art is not a new concept, using an extensive, master-planned art program to reinforce the airport region’s unique strengths and achievements is brought to a new level at the Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC). “An airport is gateway to a community and to a region, and we want to use that to let people know they’ve arrived,” explains Mary A. Rubin, senior project manager of the Public Art Program in San Jose’s Cultural Affairs Office. Rubin spearheaded the implementation of Art + Technology, the extensive public art program that is part of SJC’s $1.3 billion Phase 1 Terminal Area Improvement Program. Building on the concept that San Jose is a city of innovation, SJC seized on the opportunity to reinforce that label visually. “When you talk to the community, whether people identify with the agricultural past or the high tech of recent years, everybody agrees this is a place of innovation,” says Rubin. “And what does that look like? With a limited budget, any one thing you do can look like a postage stamp on a battleship. So we branded the program itself and had it take an innovative approach within the realm of public art.” On a budget just shy of $6 million, the Art + Technology program includes high-tech artworks ranging from projection-based pieces to large-scale digital- and data-driven works. Some are permanent, while others will rotate approximately every two years to keep pace with changes in technology. The program relies on an infrastructure of flexible, technology-enabled platforms (developed by the interdisciplinary team of Gorbet + Banerjee, Belmont, Calif.) that accommodate data and power provisions, equipment space, and physical attachments. This allows for diverse programming while still maintaining the functionality of airport operations, says Rubin. “Airports are highly restrained, controlled environments. A platform provides the artist a toolbox from which to work, without compromising the building. And by identifying art zones from the beginning, those sites are respected.” Because the public art master plan was initiated parallel with the master plan for the new Terminal B, the artwork does not look like an afterthought. In fact, it was considered in every aspect of the program. Tom Esch, senior civil engineer in the Architectural, Signage and Mapping Section of SJC’s Planning and Development Division, explains that the Terminal B project was a design/build process and, as such, the various team members were constantly discussing and reviewing plans. “During the planning, our department and the public art team were purposely on the same floor to make sure everything worked well together and didn’t interfere with each other. We designated zones for specific functions and, as a result, there were no surprises.” In other words, the SJC team saw signage, public art, and advertising as three distinct components with defined locations and uses, and there was no compromising each one’s specific role in serving the public. 70 segdDESIGN

Airports are highly restrained, controlled environments. A platform provides the artist a toolbox from which to work, without compromising the building. And by identifying art zones from the beginning, those sites are respected.”

Intuitive wayfinding

In addition to their intrinsic value as art and their role in promoting the region’s high-tech culture, the components of Art+Technology also serve a subtle but important wayfinding function. One of the permanent pieces is Björn Schülke’s Space Observer, a glossy white 26-ft.-tall kinetic interactive sculpture that visitors encounter as they pass the meet/greet area adjacent to the checkpoint entrance. “This is a decision point as travelers move toward security,” explains Rubin. “We understood from the beginning that there was a way to address an intuitive wayfinding.” Similarly, eCLOUD by Nik Hafermaas, Dan Goods, and Aaron Koblin encourages the flow of traffic with its long and linear shape that extends down the concourse. Its thousands of polycarbonate tiles suspended from the ceiling continuously change from opaque to transparent, as real-time weather data are transmitted from around the world. While the artwork is sited to reinforce how people orient themselves and navigate the terminal, Esch maintains that public art is not integrated formally with the signage. Instead, they each have their distinct roles. “The art draws you to areas,” says Esch. “We don’t have to deal with the question of ‘Where do I go?’ Rather, the art is like an enhancement. It’s interesting and fun and says who we are.” As indicated on a directory for Terminal B, “art/displays” is a category unto itself, given equal prominence to food, shops, and other services. The power of placemaking

The program budget also covers ongoing commissioning of new pieces. With these rotating artworks, Rubin enlisted a team of curators to assess the platform opportunities and select artists for the first two-year commissioning round. Like the permanent artworks, the rotating pieces respond to the Art + Technology theme, but here Rubin used different criteria. “To have innovative artworks, you have to not expect the same kind of longevity,” says Rubin. So here the artists could take some risks and experiment with their immediate environments. In Dreaming F.I.D.S., artists Ben Hooker and Shona Kitchen have appropriated standard airport signage and used it to animate a dynamic aquatic ecosystem of schooling fish. Located across from the TSA security checkpoint, it simultaneously celebrates the complexity of technological and organic systems and remarks on the ubiquitous nature of surveillance in contemporary society. While most of the installations are dispersed throughout Terminal B, the most prominent one is outside. Hands covers the east façade of the terminal’s Consolidated Rental Car Garage, spanning 1,200 ft. and standing seven stories high. Created by Christian Moeller, Hands is part of a body of work the artist calls “Bitwalls,” which utilize high-tech mapping techniques and plotting technologies.

Below: In Dreaming F.I.D.S., artists Ben Hooker and Shona Kitchen appropriated standard airport signage to animate a dynamic aquatic ecosystem of schooling fish. (Photos: Shona Kitchen)

While the façade was budgeted for pre-cast concrete, Moeller, in collaboration with Fentress Architects, instead specified two layers of architectural metal fabric. The 2-in. outer layer serves as the canvas for the image and the 3/8-in. inner layer provides a backdrop and pedestrian barrier for the garage. This solution, using a far less costly material than previously specified, allowed for the artwork to be built on an immense scale. The notion of placemaking is embedded within the piece. Moeller photographed the hands of 53 Silicon Valley residents, from a baggage claim handler and a founding CEO of Yahoo to a tamale maker and a surgeon. A machine specially designed for the project used LED

technology to precisely map the placement of the 2-in. plastic disks on the intersection of the metal mesh layers to create the image. Finally, a small crew spent three months snapping the 350,000plus disks onto the fence. “All these people bonded with the project and with each other so there is incredible sense of ownership,” explains Rubin. “The contribution they feel they’ve given to the city is great. It is a very powerful project.”

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he desire to build and develop a sense of place within the airport environment is important to the Vancouver Airport Authority, which operates Vancouver International Airport. “When you arrive at YVR, we want you to know you are in a different place,” says Anne Murray, vice president of community affairs. “We do this through architecture and art.” When the airport’s new terminal building opened in 1996 (designed by Vancouver-based Clive Grout Architect), the YVR Art Foundation—which funds, promotes, supports, and displays Northwest Coast aboriginal art at public buildings—embraced the theme of Land, Sea and Sky. These elements are highlighted in the Pacific Passage exhibit, a space in the international arrivals terminal

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Below: Vancouver International Airport’s Observation Area has become a popular destination for airport visitors. It was designed in response to visitors’ requests for more information about airport operations. (Photos this page: Ben West) Opposite top: The centerpiece of the Observation Area is a largescale model that offers a birds- eye view of the airport’s position on Sea Island. Push-button switches trigger lights to help contextualize the stories of Sea Island’s history, from its significance to First Nations to industrial growth and contemporary development. Opposite bottom: Along a row of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the airfield and the Strait of Georgia, a series of static information panels answer visitors’ basic questions about airport operations and connect them with the natural environment.

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Right: AldrichPears and Artcraft Display also created the Pacific Passage exhibit at Vancouver International. Located in the airport’s international arrivals terminal, it celebrates the natural surroundings and indigenous culture of British Columbia’s west coast. (Photo: Rob Melnychuk)

that celebrates the natural surroundings and indigenous culture of British Columbia’s west coast. The design depicts the edge of a coastal forest and an ocean bay, complete with a soundscape of rushing water and chirping birds. This diorama serves as a backdrop to several large contemporary indigenous art pieces. The goals for YVR’s new Observation Area were a bit different. Murray describes it as more focused on the community than art. “This was a response to demands from people wanting to see and understand the airport,” says Murray. “We track customer requests and would often hear, ‘I want to look at the airplanes. Where can I do that?’ Since the rise in security, there wasn’t really a place. So we created an exhibit where people could find out more about the airport.” Located in the public, pre-security area of the domestic terminal, the 500-sq.-meter area helps orient visitors to their location with floor-to-ceiling picture windows that overlook the airfield and the Strait of Georgia. Along the windows, seven static information panels feature facts, photos, and diagrams about the activities visitors may see on the airfield and beyond. AldrichPears Associates had the challenging task of interpreting the YVR experience in a compelling and legible manner. “We see ourselves as the mediator between content and audience,” says Ron Pears, principal. “We need to know both so the creation of an appropriate set of experiences can be done with confidence.” This required anticipating basic questions visitors may have: How do airplanes fly? Where is that airplane going? What type of airplane is that? To help viewers connect what they’re reading indoors to what is happening outside, the firm strategically placed high-power telescopes along the wall at different heights. Visitors can delve deeper into the airport experience—learning about air traffic control, real-time flight activity, the journey of luggage, and YVR employees—through three interactive kiosks. Transparency in operations is part of the goal. “The airport is quite respectful of travelers,” explains Pears.” They want people to have as good a time as they can. So these interventions, to see airplanes, the natural world, etc., are purposeful decisions.” The centerpiece of the exhibit is a large-scale model that offers a bird’s eye view of the airport’s position on Sea Island. Push-button switches on the associated panels trigger lights on the model to help contextualize the stories of Sea Island’s history. The model highlights 74 segdDESIGN

We track customer requests and would often hear, ‘I want to look at the airplanes. Where can I do that?’ So we created an exhibit where people could find out more about the airport.”

different perspectives of the island, from the significance of the site to First Nations to industrial activities in the 1900s to the development of YVR as it exists today. The model’s compound curves presented a challenge, says Duane Fast, general manager of Artcraft Display Graphics (Port Coquitlam, BC), the fabricator of both the Observation Area and the Pacific Passage exhibit. Artcraft produced the graphics for the model with the company’s proprietary embedded polycarbonate process. “In order to accommodate that difficult scenario, we were able to embed our graphics into an ultrathin compound,” says Fast. “This we were able to heat and form to the irregular surface shape for a scratch-resistant and permanent product.” Because the exhibit is free and accessible to everyone, it required not only enduring materials, but also a strong message that bolstered regional pride. “We knew when we educated the community, they would take pride in it,” says Murray. And they did. The Observation Area opened in July 2009, the month before a rapid transit line connecting YVR and downtown Vancouver began. “Those two elements together created a destination for locals. People actually come out for day trips.” Jennifer Volland is a freelance writer and curator based in Long Beach, Calif. She co-authored the book Long Beach Architecture: The Unexpected Metropolis.

2004 /5/6 / 7/8

Merit Award, Student

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Store Front/Interior Signage for Nano Jon Arcade Design: Jonathan Deepe School: Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design Instructor: George Lim

Target Boat Location: New York Design: Random Productions Fabrication: Applied Image Client: Target

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Pavarotti Concert Location: Mexicali, Mexico Design: Air Dimensional Design Fabrication: Guillermo Martinez de Castro Client: Patronato Centenario Di Mexicali

Guadalupe Wedding Chapel Location: Los Angeles Design: Romero Thorsen Design Fabrication: Caltron Construction, Superior Signs Client: Marie and Julliano Morchon

s Discounted Premiums s Broad-Form Coverage s Worldwide Territory s Quick Turnaround Time s Available Limits up to $5,000,000 SEGD members are serviced by Fucci & Friedman.


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Program Partners

This literature is descriptive only. The precise coverage afforded is subject to the terms and conditions of the policies as issued.


segdDESIGN x 25



Innovative Materials, Products, and Technology

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Snoqualmie Falls, WA Designer: Lehrman Cameron Studio

Lake Union, WA Designer: Lehrman Cameron Studio

Snoqualmie Falls, WA Designer: Lehrman Cameron Studio

segdDESIGN 77

no. 31

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no. 31

Tracing Accessibility

Get Lost

Despite numerous attempts to adopt more contemporary iterations of the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA), the symbol used throughout the world remains largely unchanged after 40-plus years of colloquial use.


Canadian graphic designer Paul Arthur is commissioned to create comprehensive signage and wayfinding for Expo 67 in Montreal. The guidelines included a geometric figure representing wheelchair access.


Danish design student Susanne Koefoed submits her design to a competition initiated by Rehabilitation International’s Committee on Technical Aides to create an internationally recognizable accessibility symbol.


ICTA selects Susanne Koefoed’s design, but makes a dramatic modification: the addition of a human head shifts the focus from the wheelchair to the wheelchair user. ISO describes the symbol as a white outline of a wheelchair user within a blue square.


Donald Meeker and his team at Danne & Blackburn develop symbols for signage for the Army Corps of Engineers. The accessibility symbol is now in the public domain and is used by the National Park Service.


SEGD works with design student Brendán Murphy in a redesign exercise focused on representing a more empowered figure. While it is not officially adoped by the Access Board, many designers begin using this symbol in place of the 40-year-old official symbol.


VSA Arts releases a series of recommended pictograms for accessibility within creative and artistic venues. Their pictogram furthers the visual representation of active mobility and participation.


42 years after the ISA is created, and 44 years since the introduction of Paul Arthur’s accessibility symbol at Expo 67, the ISA continues to be a point of debate among designers, and a truly universal symbol has yet to be adopted.

What is your take on the ISA? Create and submit your own iteration and see it exhibited in June at the 2011 SEGD Conference+Expo+Awards in Montreal. E-mail your vector submission formatted within a 20cm x 20cm square (Illustrator or EPS) to by March 15, 2011. Information graphics: Justin Molloy, signitecture 80 segdDESIGN

Custom Signs and Architectural Graphics for Every Environment Now celebrating our 30th year in the custom sign and architectural graphics industry, GableSigns has a unique combination of experience, capabilities and services to work with you during any phase of your next project. From design, budgeting, and engineering assistance to custom fabrication and installation of any size or type of sign project imaginable, you can count on the GableSigns team every step of the way to make you and your project shine!



Newâ&#x20AC;? ProductExpo



010 SE

at the 2

om n-Guru.c www.Sig out! Check


design, engineering & prototype assistance | cost/budget analysis | permits total project management | advanced manufacturing | installation ser vices anywhere

“Sandblasted glass with paint-filled recessed lines. Water-jet cut stainless steel letters. Individual drilled and inserted translucent raster braille balls.”

“Reverse-etched bronze with raised lines and letters.”

NUMBER 31, 2011

You imagine. We build. is a registered trademark of Signs + Decal Corporation.

Please contact me personally: Mohamed Khalfan,Vice President 718-486-6400


Building what visionaries see. For two generations.


“Exposed photopolymer with raised lines, finished with precision color tipping.”

15 Central Park West, New York City Designer: Pentagram Architect: Robert A.M. Stern Architects Owner/Developer: Arthur and William Zeckendorf Contractor: Bovis Lend Lease Project Scope: Complete exterior and interior wayfinding and code compliance signage systems (2,164 signs) for connected 43-story and 19-story buildings.

“Create perfectly executed, matched, custom-crafted signs that live up to the most expensive residential building built in Manhattan since the 1920s. Apply our 1/16" lined-border signage design to three radically different materials.”

You imagine. We build.


Signs Environments Graphics Designs

Airports in Transition + 21st Century Libraries + Andreas Uebele + Montreal, Inside Out

31 2011 no.

segdDESIGN 31  

segdDESIGN is the magazine of choice for creative professionals working at the intersection of communication design and the built environmen...

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