New enhancements (both signage and architecture) to the Stockyards was to be done with thought and sensitivity to the existing and historic character of the site. A holistic approach to the planning principles and strategies of navigation through the district to allow for growth and engagement was critical. The planning principles included:
- Design to prioritize history
- Allow paths of people and animals to intersect
- Provide clarity and organization
- Design for flexibility of use
- Expose the story
Connections to the Community and Beyond
Improving connections not only within the Stockyards but to the city of Fort Worth as a whole will strengthen the Stockyards, as both a destination and a home base, for visitors and locals. As envisioned for this wayfinding project, the connections to Fort Worth are many: physical streets and paths, urban planning moves, cultural ties, historic context, visual sightlines to iconic buildings, and economic forces related to the supply and demand of the marketplace.
The Stockyards is the #1 destination for cowboy culture, anchoring Fort Worth’s
brand to a broader national and international audience. In some way, these connections are more emotional and intellectual. Yet, through clear experiential connections that preserve and grow relevant content and programming, the connections have real impact on the ground. Preserving the soul of the Stockyards is fundamental. The authenticity of those experiences is essential to the evolution of the project and its brand.
Create new Memories
The boundaries, pathways, and landmarks are the tangible elements to assist in building memories. They are one of the fundamental building blocks of the sense of place. By understanding these fundamentals, we can understand and evaluate the site in more meaningful ways. Crafting a strategy for navigation through the Stockyards needed to be both functional and educational….share the story through signage and visitor touch points.
Watch Out for the Longhorns!
Refining the navigation and crafting a new strategy through the Stockyards for the various layers of movement was taken into account while defining the “Heritage Trail” and its signage.
The path of the twice-daily cattle drive intersected with the vehicles…which intersected with the pedestrian pathways…which intersected with the rodeo…which intersected with the hotel guests….which intersected with the train…which intersected with the retail stores….and it goes on.
These connections were intended to all overlap to ensure the authenticity and engagement of what makes the Stockyards so enthralling.
Is That New?
The signage aiding the navigation of these overlapping paths of travel wanted to feel as if it too grew organically with the area’s evolution. Directional signs, informational signs, identity signs, and educational signs all overlapped organically, but with some “breadcrumbs” of commonality….through the materials.
Signage materials were derived from the character of the historic context, but felt modern at the same time. The intent was not to recreate history, but to complement it with a warmth of character that blended comfortably into the richness of the context.
RSM Design; Design Team: Harry Mark, FAIA; KK Closuit, Eddie Sayer
Zach Burson, Christy Montgomery (photography)