Better signage, and a house

A model for the future?

This morning at Design Review Committee the wayfinding proposal presented by Sheila Chaffin of UAB (above) was unanimously approved. Dozens of signs will direct people and traffic through the Medical District in a system coordinated between UAB, Children’s Hospital, VA Hospital, and Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. Complementing these will be UAB campus-specific signage–same style, but with the UAB logo on top rather than “Medical District.” MB3 Designworks of Virginia designed the signage, and local firm KPS Group coordinated placement and messaging.

We’ve commented several times on the urgent need for wayfinding in downtown Birmingham; hopefully this project will inspire the City to move that up their priority list. Because when we leave a well-marked Medical District, we still need to find our way around the rest of town.

Full renovation coming later

Approval was also granted for a neon-illuminated blade sign to be sited on the corner of 20th Street North and 2nd Avenue at the second-story level of the historic Roden Building. This sign, which is 8 feet tall and reads “PARAMOUNT” in a vertical format, is a temporary measure to advertise the Paramount store that opened last year and sells yogurt, sweets, and other items. Our office designed a complete exterior renovation (pictured above) for a future phase,  including larger illuminated signage running horizontally that was previously approved by the Committee. In the meantime, it’s exciting to see this great old building coming back to life step by step.

Man with a plan

Finally, approval was also granted for construction of a new residence on Cliff Road in historic Forest Park (above architect Alex Krumdieck presents the rendering). It’s good to see continued investment in the historic residential neighborhoods surrounding downtown; a healthy downtown complements the neighborhoods, and healthy neighborhoods complement downtown. We need to support intelligent improvements in both to help build a city greater than the sum of its parts.

Happy Memorial Day everybody!

23 responses to “Better signage, and a house

  1. So good to see the UAB/Medical District wayfinding system move ahead. As you suggest, an on-the-ground model should stimulate interest in the long-needed system for the city center and nearby attractions like the zoo.

    • Thanks for reminding us that wayfinding, while typically intense in downtown areas due to the density, is also needed throughout a larger area to help guide people to attractions like the zoo. The City of Mountain Brook has done a decent job with a simple wayfinding system in its villages.

  2. Item II of XIII? Seriously?

  3. Where on Cliff Road is there a ‘blank spot’ for a new house? (I’m not in Bham any more, but grew up there and drove down Cliff Road daily.)

    • 4115 Cliff: it’s actually an older house with severe termite damage (it had been vacant for some years after an elderly resident’s death). So it is demolished and replaced with this new one. Thanks.

      • Funnily enough, I heavily considered buying that house a couple of years ago as it seemed like an amazing opportunity for renovation! I’m glad I didn’t get far enough in the process to actually discover the damage. Also glad to see that the house will fit in well in the neighborhood (from what I can tell from the picture).

      • It’s never an easy decision to demolish an historic structure. In this case it sounded like the damage was so extensive it would be extremely difficult to restore. And the architect did a great job with a sensitive design with high quality materials and detailing. Thanks.

      • Ah, right. I know that stretch of road. Always liked the ‘double banking’ between the houses and the street levell. Sorry to hear one of the original houses is going, but this one looks stylistically right to blend in seamlessly, as opposed to the one or two ‘mod’ experiments that went in forty-ish years ago.

  4. Seems odd to make the vertical sign a temporary measure, since it would provide wayfaring/advertising on the avenue and the street at a distance instead of just locations facing the store.

  5. Now if UAB would just change that chunky 70s logo!

    • You’re not the first one to make the comment about the UAB logo–at this point I can see their hesitation to change it altogether–but I bet a good graphic designer could tweak it enough so that it looked fresh and streamlined, rather than a bit 1970’s! Thanks.

  6. Where can you find the entire list of items they voted on?

    • Due to budgetary priorities, our City does not have the capability like some do to post agendas of every committee that meets there online, including Design Review. You can call the Planning department and ask to be put on the email list for agenda circulation, or show up at City Hall and look at the bulletin board each week–but other than that I’m not aware of how the public can access that information. Someone else could correct me if I’m wrong. Thanks.

      • the agenda items for the Design Review Committee are part of public record. You may call the Urban Design Division at City Hall and request the agenda prior to a meeting (2nd and 4th Wednesday) or perhaps the fearless author of this blog could post them for all to see.

      • The fearless author of this blog will certainly consider posting the agenda before the meetings! Thanks.

  7. Thanks

  8. Your reference to the design of the new wayfinding signage is incorrect. The design aesthetic was actually prepared by MB3 Designworks, a Virginia company that was subcontracted by KPS for design services. Both modern and historical aesthetics were studied and the client chose to implement the more traditional theme. KPS planned the locations/placement and specific message hierarchy for the system.

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