To anyone who lives there, or even those who have visited, it's obvious that the words "Los Angeles" and "walks" don't belong together. The great auto city was designed to connect freeways and move people in and out quickly, with very little concern for pedestrians or the walking experience.
All that may be changing thanks to Downtown Los Angeles Walks, an ambitious wayfinding/marketing program that is encouraging tourists and Angelinos alike to walk the city and discover its many destinations.
The team of Hunt Design and Corbin Design developed a wayfinding program that breaks the downtown core into 13 key destination districts and helps people find their way and feel comfortable exploring along the way. The project required a staggering amount of coordination between the design team, the client, the Confederation of Downtown Associations and its nine business improvement districts, and the city and state departments of transportation. Individual committees from each of the 13 districts also weighed in on the designs, destination choices, and icons.
The system includes 1,300 signs in a 4-sq.-mile area that encompasses 350 city blocks, 300 intersections, 50 streets, 30 freeway off-ramps, eight subway stations, and hundreds of bus stops. More than 2,000 destinations are represented in the system. The fabrication budget was $2 million.
The design team developed unique icons and colors for each of the 13 districts, providing each with a distinct identity. Three sign shapes and five color choices resulted in 15 shape/color combinations. The district icons are being provided free to local hotels, transit services, and parking operators to encourage their use and to promote a consistent visual language in area signage and maps.
After more than a year of negotiations with state regulatory agencies, vehicular signs are a creative hybrid of official DOT signage and district identity. Each features directions to districts and major destinations within them.
The system includes more than 400 pedestrian signs. "Rolling" urban maps (in subsurface-imaged fiberglass to resist vandalism and reproduce fine detailing) feature close-ups of a nine-block area, with the "you are here" orientation in the center. On each block, the map "moves" with the viewer, keeping the user in the center of the nine-block area.
Wayne Hunt, Jeffry Corbin (principals in charge); John Temple; Jim Harper; InSung Kim; Matt McCormick; Dinnis Lee; Rick Stringer
Fluoresco Lighting & Signs
"Encouraging people to walk in the heart of America's great auto city is an accomplishment of note. As such, this program is a kind of green design, to the extent that it encourages people to get out of their carbon dioxide-emitting vehicles and just walk.
"This submission represents a tremendous planning and coordination process. The design team created a strategy to describe the core of Los Angeles and its 13 districts and a wayfinding system that will help people traverse and explore the area. The effort involved in coordinating with the communities, the destination stakeholders, and the public agencies is remarkable and to be applauded."