Signage Leads the Way at Unity Plaza
When working on a space that is meant to transform a neighborhood and be a welcoming space for the community, signage – particularly wayfinding elements – becomes a crucial key to success. The Society for Experiential Graphic Design defines wayfinding as “information systems that guide people through a physical environment and enhance their understanding and experience of the space.” For Harbinger’s work at Jacksonville’s newest urban park Unity Plaza, a look and feel had to be established through wayfinding signage that promoted the park, its contents, its retailers, and more – all while complementing the surrounding atmosphere.
A combination live/work/play space, the newly-developed property is a combination of all the best elements of urban living. The tract of land along the important Riverside Avenue corridor was envisioned as a large, modern apartment complex, 220 Riverside, connected to an active urban park. The park, dubbed Unity Plaza, would be built to serve as a gathering spot, performance space, retail magnet, and community center.
Harbinger was brought on the project to work with NAI Hallmark Partners as well as Studio 9 Architects, who played a key role in design placement, and Wingard Creative, the team behind Unity Plaza’s logo and brand materials. The Unity Plaza brand was created to reflect the intentions of the space – the curvature of the amphitheater, the vibrancy of an exciting public space, the simple beauty of a well-designed urban park.
“We had to take in to account a lot of factors,” says Ryan Richardson of Harbinger, “from unifying the signage of the retail rental spaces to branding the Unity Plaza feel across the park for both recognizabilty and beautification.” For the retailers, specific interchangeable cabinets were chosen to “translate to every tenant space and logo while still providing a uniformity across the space,” says Richardson.
Branding the park through wayfinding signage is where the real magic comes into play. “We envisioned a series of aluminum pennant flags that could serve as design elements to offset the park while promoting the plaza’s current tenants and events,” says Richardson. Due to the installation location, technically “off site” of the Unity Plaza property, the proposed signage had to pass through Jacksonville’s Downtown Development Review Board. “When you design something that has to satisfy that many separate parties,” says Richardson, “you have to juggle a lot of requests, restrictions, and needs all at once without sacrificing design intention.”
With the installation of the pennant flag signage, Unity Plaza gained a distinctive feel that allows for changeability as the space morphs and grows. “I think Harbinger did a fantastic job of providing a strong sense of place to Unity Plaza,” says Alex Coley, Principal and CoFounder of NAI Hallmark Partners. “I knew from their work around the community that they had the ability to accomplish the job, but the final product provides more than excellent visibility – it gives a feel and emotion to the park.”
Anchored with halo-lit lettering at the edge of Riverside Drive, Unity Plaza now stands out as a beacon for the community in the Brooklyn neighborhood. “As the park grows to expand its offerings to the community, it will continue to activate the cultural corridor that links Downtown to Riverside,” says Coley. “We have a wonderful partner in Harbinger to thank for brining their superior work and craftsmanship to the site; bolstering the park’s presence and establishing the sign of what’s to come.”