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.
Sanford Bond (principal in charge), Todd Dykshorn, Jason Dufilho, Kyngwon Yoon
Acorn Sign Graphics (interior and exterior signage), Matthews Paint (polyurethane)