We are excited to be making final preparations for the move to our new offices at 1634 East César Chávez Street. The three years spent in our current space have been great, and we will certainly miss being reminded of our work on the development of the livery for Capital Metro’s Metrorail system as the train speeds past our front door several times a day. We are, however, definitely looking forward to some of the advantages of the new space.
The single-story brick building, which is the former home of the Austin School of Film, will give us more conference space, dedicated parking, lots of natural light, and our own fenced-in back yard. Just as importantly, the new location keeps us in East Austin, in an area surrounded by neighborhood restaurants, local shops, and artists’ studios. We’ll even be on the same block as the popular Heywood Hotel, and be directly across the street from Flat Track Coffee.
Our first day in the new building will be March 1, 2017.
The Art Directors Club has selected fd2s Managing Principal Steven Stamper as a member of the design jury for its 96th ADC Annual Awards.
The ADC Annual Awards is the oldest continuously running industry award show in the world. Now in its 96th year, the ADC Awards celebrate the very best in advertising, digital media, graphic and publication design, packaging, motion design, photography, and illustration, all with a focus on craftsmanship, design, and innovation.
The Art Directors Club was one of the world’s first non-profit organizations to champion commercial creativity. A nonprofit membership organization boasting one of the most concentrated groups of creative talent in the world, ADC’s mission is to connect, educate, and inspire creative professionals around the globe through its programming.
Stamper will be part of a 28-member ADC jury that includes professionals from 13 different countries, who will be judging entries from around the world. He has previously served as a juror for the American Institute of Graphic Arts’ annual design competition, and has chaired the Society for Experiential Design’s SEGD Design Awards.
The deadline to enter the 96th ADC Annual Awards is January 31, 2017. For more information, visit the ADC website.
As we head into the final months of 2016, we are adding some exciting new projects to our extensive roster of active engagements. The four assignments below – which include a mix of new fd2s clients and expansions of established relationships – represent some of the highlights.
California State University Channel Islands
We recently completed the development of an exterior wayfinding strategy for California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo. Now we are handling design, documentation, and implementation oversight for phase one of the strategy’s roll-out. As part of this phase one implementation, we will be beta testing each of the sign types recommended by the wayfinding strategy.
Headwaters at the Comal
We are working with New Braunfels Utilities on their Headwaters at the Comal project. The site, located on the banks of Comal Springs and Blieders Creek, had served as a city water source or utilities operations center since the early 1900s. Today, NBU is undertaking an extensive ecological restoration of the site and creating a community-oriented conference facility and interpretive center that will highlight the hydrological, environmental, and cultural history of the region.
Our scope includes creating a location strategy for future donor recognition installations and handling signage design. We are completing our work in conjunction with the activities of architecture firm Lake|Flato and Ten Eyck Landscape Architects.
Working with Inland Development Company, we are creating an identity and environmental graphics program for the StowAway self-storage concept. By combining storage space with an office address, StowAway offers a unique solution for business tenants that need easy access to inventory.
The University of Kansas Health System
As part of our long-term, ongoing relationship with the University of Kansas Hospital, we have been asked to assist with wayfinding and signage issues related to their adoption of a new graphic identity. This includes facility surveys, creation of a signage inventory, the development of design guidelines, and the documentation of rules-of-thumb for implementing new and replacement signage throughout the healthcare system.
fd2s recently began work on the development of signage and graphics for Springdale General, a creative campus that will include studios, office space, test kitchens, and workshops. Located in East Austin, the project is being developed by Central Austin Management Group, which previously created Austin’s highly successful Canopy creative community.
Designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, Springdale General will consist of 15 newly constructed buildings. The buildings will be connected by walkways, and several will share a large courtyard. The campus will include solar panels and rainwater harvesting, and will be anchored by an on-site café.
In keeping with the industrial feel of the project, our signage components will utilize a spare, rugged palette. Key elements will include plate-steel panels and paint on corrugated-metal facades.
Bexar County has selected fd2s to develop a wayfinding strategy for the Bexar County Courthouse complex in San Antonio. The downtown campus includes the historic courthouse building, Paul Elizondo Tower, the Family Justice Center, and a five-level visitor parking structure.
The facility accommodates more than 15,000 daily visitors, including more than 600 prospective jurors, along with courthouse staff and other County employees. A key goal of the new wayfinding program is to guide users who are navigating the process of obtaining a marriage license or trying to find the appropriate courtroom. We anticipate that the system will emphasize technology tools and traditional signage that help to orient first-time visitors.
As a first step, we will work with Bexar County facilities management staff to evaluate their existing wayfinding assets. In addition to performing a comprehensive survey of signage, printed materials, and online tools, we will conduct a variety of visitor arrival scenarios in order to expand our understanding of user needs and uncover gaps in the existing system.
Once the wayfinding strategy and related design documentation are complete, we will consolidate them into signage standards that will be used to deploy the wayfinding system throughout the downtown campus and at three other county campuses in greater San Antonio.
While the issue of gender inclusivity – particularly as it relates to restroom facilities – has entered the public consciousness in a big way recently, it’s a consideration that has been on the minds of environmental graphic designers for quite some time.
As highlighted in this recent article by Aimee Lee Ball in the New York Times, signage is on the front lines of explaining the intended use of restroom facilities. It’s clear that in an era of rapidly evolving attitudes, changing laws, and redesigned physical facilities, it is more important than ever that signage deliver consistent and easily understood messages.
Although the urgency and public attention are new, we at fd2s see this challenge as an extension of an issue we have been dealing with for many years. When working on complex, high-traffic environments like healthcare facilities, we have long faced the challenge of how to identify spaces in the least confusing manner, particularly for groups of people with diverse language skills or cognitive abilities. This has even led to a number of early approaches for identifying gender-inclusive restroom facilities.
Based on this experience, we’re inclined to agree with the frustrated business owner quoted in the New York Times article as saying “We need a label that says no label.” In other words, instead of adding additional or different icons or symbols to restroom signage, we recommend moving toward signage that is more focused on the function of the facilities, rather than the identity of their intended user.
fd2s Principal Curtis Roberts recently traveled to Monterrey, México to kick off our work on the development of a graphic identity and signage for the new Centro Las Sendas mixed-use development. Located near the Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM), the project will include retail, office, and hotel uses, as well as a grocery store and extensive structured parking.
Grupo Marfil, a well-known multifamily developer, is building this ambitious project in the affluent community of San Pedro Gárza García, west of metropolitan Monterrey. It will provide area residents with a convenient alternative to downtown Monterrey for shopping and working, and will serve a large subdivision immediately south of the site as well as students from UDEM in neighboring Santa Catarina.
The project will be completed in two phases. The first phase will include a four-level office building with ground-level bank and coffee shop, as well as a second structure that will house locally owned restaurants, a grocery store, and a rooftop food hall. This phase will also include five levels of sub-grade parking.
Phase two will be anchored by an 11-story building housing office space and an extended-stay hotel. This tower will be flanked by low-rise structures that feature tenants offering discretionary retail items in a relaxed shopping environment.
Our scope of work includes developing a graphic identity and related environmental graphics program for the project, and creating a coordinated wayfinding system that clarifies the dynamics of site ingress, egress, and parking.
At facilities ranging from hospitals and college campuses to performing arts centers and public sports complexes, administrators and fundraising teams are dealing with new challenges related to how donors should be recognized in the built environment.
These donor recognition challenges are closely related to broader, ongoing trends in the fundraising world, which include:
Greater Fundraising Needs
Diminishing availability of public funds from all levels of government, along with higher costs associated with many not-for-profit organizations’ increasingly complex missions, is creating a growing demand for contributions from individual, institutional, and corporate donors.
The greater need for donated funds cuts across organizations and industries, meaning that the most desirable donors are hearing appeals from an even wider variety of worthy causes.
More Sophisticated Donors
The one-time core audience of wealthy individuals is now just one component of a larger donor ecosystem that includes corporate donors of various sizes, sophisticated family foundations, and large numbers of individual contributors making small donations via the Internet.
More Elaborate Campaigns
Even small- to mid-sized organizations now regularly conduct multiple overlapping capital and annual-giving campaigns, covering a variety of different programs and facilities.
All of these factors, along with enormous advances in the technology available for creating and maintaining donor recognition elements, are dramatically changing the way we acknowledge donors in the built environment. The days of the single bronze plaque in the building lobby are long gone, and its replacement is a complex, changing – and often technology-enhanced – assortment of recognition elements spread throughout a facility.
Not only are institutions asking these new elements to recognize more levels of donors, for more campaigns, in more places, they are also demanding that they entertain visitors and encourage new donations by delivering compelling information about the institution’s mission and its existing donor base.
We’re pleased to share some exciting developments regarding new and ongoing fd2s wayfinding projects across the U.S. and around the world.
Galleria40 Phase II
At the Galleria40 project in Cairo, Egypt, our scope has been expanded to accommodate recent revisions to the mixed-use development’s design and circulation plan. As part of this expanded scope, we will update our wayfinding master plan to reflect a newly conceived event venue on the mezzanine level, and will also revise the plan to address a variety of additional changes intended to improve tenant visibility and create a more engaging shopping experience.
City of Navasota Identity Development
Civic leaders in Navasota, Texas, have asked us to add identity development to our existing wayfinding master plan project. We will utilize our understanding of the community to develop a graphic identity that conveys Navasota’s unique strengths, and will then incorporate this new identity into the final design of the new signage and wayfinding elements. The new identity will also be rolled out across the city’s other communication and marketing materials.
The Village Wayfinding Implementation
The Village Business Improvement District in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is moving forward with the implementation of our recently completed wayfinding master plan. The signage package has been released for bid, and fabrication and installation will be completed over the next three years. This implementation schedule will dovetail with a larger program of intersection reconfigurations and infrastructure upgrades in the district.
Texas State Capitol Wayfinding Enhancements
The State Preservation Board has engaged us to plan and design enhancements to the wayfinding program at the Texas State Capitol here in Austin. This includes new exterior wayfinding elements that will improve accessibility for disabled visitors, and new interior wayfinding and operational signage. A major goal of the new interior signage will be to clarify and expedite the increasingly complex security procedures at the building’s entrances.
fd2s recently began work on the creation of interpretive exhibits for the soon-to-be-revitalized Heritage Park Plaza in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. Designed in the 1970s by acclaimed landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, the plaza earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places in May 2010, but has been closed to the public since 2007 because of safety concerns created by a lack of funding for ongoing maintenance.
A team led by landscape architect Studio Outside and architect Bennett Benner Partners is working with a diverse group of public and private sponsors to plan and implement a comprehensive restoration of the plaza. This will include structural repairs to the extensive hardscaping that defines the plaza’s interconnected outdoor rooms, and reactivation of the water walls, fountains, channels, and pools that punctuate the spaces. The project is also restoring the plaza’s lighting features, landscaping, and irrigation.
As part of this team, fd2s is creating interpretive exhibits that will convey the plaza’s importance as a cultural and social destination in downtown Fort Worth, as well as its significance as an example of one of Halprin’s more mature projects. The exhibits will also educate visitors on the important role that the nearby Trinity River has played in the city’s history.