Exploring Oberlin will soon be easier under a plan to post signs directing visitors to restaurants, shopping, bike trails, and other attractions.
The wayfinding signage plan has now entered its final design development stages, Gina Gerken of Guide Studio told city council Monday.
In 2015, a $25,000 grant was awarded to city officials to help create signs that will help visitors find landmarks such as the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin Heritage Center, and Frank Lloyd Wright House, and to call attention to parking.
Gerken and partner Kevin Fromat presented a collection of sign designs and preliminary fabrication cost estimates to council.
Fabrication costs are expected to be in the neighborhood of $691,000 but do not include engineering, travel, samples, or removal of existing signs.
To create a logo and design for the signs, Guide Studio used feedback from residents about what they think when someone mentions the city’s name.
“When asked to describe the personality of Oberlin, participants offered a lot of descriptors centered around accepting and welcoming qualities, such as ‘friendly,’ ‘ethical,’ ‘open’ and ‘nonviolent’ balanced with words that convey a strong conviction like ‘opinionated,’ ‘assertive.’ and tough,” said Gerken.
Officials and Guide Studio are working with eight community organizations to create the wayfinding system.
Councilman Bryan Burgess said he’s received complaints about difficulty finding public parking.
“There is a need for signs. We have heard concerns about parking for decades,” he said.
Fromat said signage is one of the first physical interactions with a city and will make an impression — positive or negative — with visitors.
“The theme of our signage is based on Oberlin’s history of championing diversity in all aspects of life – race, gender, sexuality, age, thought, architecture and the arts,” he said. “Patterns derived from the eclectic architecture and landscape throughout the city not only represent the many levels of diversity, but because patterns are naturally repetitive, they evoke a sense of connection and integration.”
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.