Delivering the message (2)

At long last

At today’s Design Review Committee meeting, unanimous approval was given to a new branding concept for the “micro-neighborhood” of Second Avenue North between 25th Street and Richard Arrington Blvd (logo above, designed by Shannon Harris of Big Communications). After writing in this blog about the lack of good neighborhood branding in this City last year, your author teamed up with a group of local 2nd Avenue merchants, residents, and supporters to put together a plan for branding this burgeoning urban place. After much work, and neighborhood presentations to garner support, we now have a plan. And it’s exciting for several reasons.

Now I know where I am

First, good branding will reinforce this place’s identity for residents, merchants, and visitors. Easy-to-spot banner signage (above) coupled with a website (coming soon!), brochures, and other items will make 2nd Avenue simpler to find, navigate–and market to prospective new users. Awareness is raised, and visibility heightened.

That most urban of street furnishings

Second, it introduces fresh design to the public realm. Certain items in the public right-of-way (like benches in the lovely 2nd Avenue “butternut” hue, above) help cohere the street and extend the brand. Final locations will be determined–there will be enough for consistency, but not so much to overwhelm the eclectic, natural power of the street.

We need ’em

Third, we love bikes. Bike racks (above) identify the street (and by extension the greater neighborhood) as bike-friendly. Currently in front of Urban Standard alone, the one bike rack is often double-loaded, with others tied to whatever other pole may be available. Our bikes deserve more respect.

Most importantly, we hope this small 4-block effort will serve as a catalyst for a comprehensive branding program endorsed by the City. Nothing would be better than for 2nd Avenue to link logically with other branded neighborhoods. It’s high time we all agree that the current legal neighborhood structure–while important politically–is very different from the reality of how urban places emerge and develop (and often cross over legal boundaries). Most every other city has realized this distinction between political geography and the more complex fabric of urban places.

This is currently a total volunteer effort (graciously assisted by Operation New Birmingham). The next step is to raise funds (through donations, grants, and other sources) to determine the total scope of Phase One. More information will be coming soon. Until then, get ready 2nd Avenue: you’ve only seen the beginning.


12 responses to “Delivering the message (2)

  1. Michael Calvert

    It is probably time to develop new identification markers for Second Avenue, but the existing metal markers designed by Bob Moody have attractive graphics and have served well for many years.

    I wonder about modern street furniture in a historic area.

    A cautionary note: years ago UAB installed some handsome, modern bike racks that went unused because students thought they were sculpture.

    • Agreed that the original markers were great for their time, but have become obsolete as distinct urban places have emerged since then.

      We feel strongly that good modern design is an expression of the revitalization of the neighborhood for new uses–and fits the fresh vibe going on. I’m always an advocate of respecting historic architecture with tasteful modern design–rather than trying to recreate a mythical past (that never had street benches). Cities from Chattanooga to Stockholm, Sweden have done this with great success.

      Cautionary note well taken! Thanks.

  2. Please keep us in the loop. norwood has been looking for new sign branding idea. cloth banner are not perminant enough.
    Thanks james.

    • We will–cloth banners are OK if you plan to switch them out a lot (for seasonal changes, special events, etc.) If not, metal is probably the way to go for longevity. THanks.

  3. I’m not sure if you’re aware of Local Bike Racks (, but I hope this company will be considered when looking at installing new racks in this district, or really anywhere. Bici Cooperative is also currently working on a grant proposal to help subsidize the cost of purchasing and installing racks in town, and is looking for business partnerships to help secure the funding. I’d love to speak with anyone who is looking to make Birmingham more bike friendly!

    • We already have that company on our list to talk to. And thanks for alerting us to your proposal, and we hope to talk more with you and others that can help make this City more bike friendly!

  4. Thank you. This is wonderful.

  5. Very nice! Micro-neighborhoods need branding, too! Welcome addition to 2nd…..

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