The Village Wauwatosa
Wayfinding, placemaking come together in a branded environment that renews a sense of place
Just west of Downtown Milwaukee, along the Menomonee River, The Village Wauwatosa is the pedestrian-friendly, cultural and retail hub of Wauwatosa, a city of 40,000+ residents. As part of a significant redevelopment effort, the community selected fd2s to develop a public wayfinding plan that captures the spirit of The Village Wauwatosa to enhance visitor experience. fd2s evaluated the existing urban wayfinding challenges, including unconventional street configuration and the need for significant infrastructure improvements to improve pedestrian safety. fd2s then reviewed city plans for current and future development and worked with project stakeholders to determine priorities for budgeting and implementation.
The project goal was to enhance the sense of place by orienting both drivers and pedestrians to landmarks such as the Menomonee River, Honey Creek, State Street, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, and the Washington Highlands Historic District. The resulting strategy identified strategic entry points into The Village and included recommendations for a navigational design that addressed first-time visitors and longtime residents. Finally, fd2s proposed deploying public signage featuring a new visual identity. In key locations, digital wayfinding directories provide up-to-date information about community events and weather.
The Village Wauwatosa has a notable history and many illustrious sons and daughters, including actor Spencer Tracy, Peabody Award-winning journalist Nancy Dickerson, former NBA star Devin Harris, and Nobel Prize-winning physicist David J. Wineland. To help ground visitors and residents in the neighborhood’s cultural significance and create moments of discovery and joy, fd2s conceived a firefly motif inspired by the Potowatomi meaning of The Village’s name. The tracery pattern on directional signage evokes the veining of firefly wings and The Village’s eccentric street configuration. Illumination effects and the use of this repeating pattern serve as visual reminders of place and help guide pedestrians and drivers alike.