Visual Arts Center of Richmond Signage

Merit Award

The nonprofit Visual Arts Center of Richmond engages the community in the arts by offering classes, exhibits, and forums. As part of a major renovation, 3north was commissioned to create a signage and graphics program for the facility, a row of historic houses joined to create one building.

The program was a collaboration among the designers, the architect, and the fabricator. A limited budget and tight schedule played a significant role in the choice of materials. To reduce costs, acrylic and screenprinting were used as alternatives to metals. To provide consistency among a diverse range of interior wall surfaces (old brick, drywall, plaster, and glass), the team chose a simple, contemporary typeface and colors. For both interior and exterior signs, type was reversed out of the signage material, leveraging light and shadow and positive and negative elements.

A total of 83 signs, including 13 sign types, were created as part of the system. The exterior identify sign incorporates the word “Visual” as a knock-out reverse channel box, with “Arts Center” in brushed-aluminum pan-reverse channel construction. “Of Richmond” is waterjet-cut brushed aluminum. Inside, dimensional letter signs identifying rooms and affiliated donors were CNC-cut out of clear acrylic and painted with brushed-aluminum paint with a gloss finish for a metallic look. Vertical room identification signs were CNC-cut from 10-in. wide by 80-in.-long acrylic panels. Front surfaces surrounding the typeface were painted white and the back was painted light gray so that the inner surface of the typeface creates a shadow on the light gray background, creating a subtle but legible effect. Disc-shaped donor signs and directionals were also CNC-cut and painted acrylic, with handsprayed color and hand-screened type.

Jury Comments: 

“The client here certainly got a big bang for their buck! Simple typography and smart material applications combine to deliver elegant solutions for the interior signage elements. Type bleeding off the edge of the field acknowledges the three-dimensionality of the sign rather than simply dealing with a flat graphic on a surface.”

Design Firm: 

3north

Client: 

Visual Arts Center of Richmond

Location City: 

Richmond, VA

Project Area: 

N/A

Open Date: 

N/A

Project Budget: 

N/A

Photo Credits: 

Chris Cunningham

Design Team: 

Sanford Bond (principal in charge), Todd Dykshorn, Jason Dufilho, Kyngwon Yoon

Consultants: 

N/A

Fabricators: 

Acorn Sign Graphics (interior and exterior signage), Matthews Paint (polyurethane)

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