City Council Workshop on Wayfinding Project Oct. 15

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email

City Council Workshop on Wayfinding Project Oct. 15

Posted: 10/08/2009
Residents will have one more opportunity to learn about, and provide input on, the Downtown Knoxville Wayfinding Project during a City Council Workshop set for 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 15.

The workshop will be held in the City County Building's Main Assembly Room. It will include a presentation to City Council of the proposed wayfinding design plan by MERJE, a Philadelphia-based firm that is the city's consultant on the project.

The goal of wayfinding is to make it easy for visitors to navigate into and around downtown Knoxville as well highlighting its attractions and other offerings in an appealing and informative manner. To accomplish that MERJE and city officials have been working to develop a signage strategy that better organizes information and uses a consistent design to present it. 
"This is the last opportunity for folks to see what has been proposed and to provide input about the design before the final version is completed," said Anne Wallace, the city's Cumberland Avenue Project Manager and director of the wayfinding effort.

Typically audience members have an opportunity to speak to Council during workshop sessions.

Wallace and MERJE staffers have already been working on the wayfinding plan for several months and there have been two prior public meetings outlining potential signage strategies and designs and gathering input from residents and business owners. The city and MERJE have also met with downtown stakeholder groups including representatives from Market Square, historic preservation groups and the Old City among others.

Knoxville has some existing directional signage but it tends to be inconsistent, confusing and in poor repair. The MERJE report shows several examples of it in a section of its presentation titled "visual clutter." 
The wayfinding plan envisions using distinctive - and consistent - signs to direct travelers into downtown either through primary gateways, like the Henley Street Bridge, or secondary gateways, for example Clinch Avenue out the Fort Sanders Neighborhood.

Upon entering downtown visitors would be directed into one of several downtown districts, like the Market Square or theater districts and then to parking facilities.

From there signage would direct them to specific locations, like the Bijou Theater, for example, and later help them exit downtown. The designs, color schemes and sizes of the signs are consistent but are also tailored to the different functions.

Wallace said the city will implement the new scheme in three phases. The first would focus on directional signs to get people to parking lots and garages downtown and then help them find specific locations from there. 
"The biggest concern we heard from downtown stakeholders was that we have plenty of parking but people don't know how to get to it," Wallace said. "We think that's the best place to start." 
She said the city hopes to begin removing the existing signs downtown and implementing the first phase this spring.

The second phase focuses on the vehicular directional signage into and around downtown to various destinations beyond the public parking sites and the third phase completes the pedestrian and directional phases including helping people access the gateways from places like the airport. The second and third phases have not been scheduled yet. 
"This is a long process, deciding which design to use, where to put signs and how best to put this program in place," Wallace said. "But it's going to really open up downtown to visitors, or residents who don't spend a lot of time here. That helps them and it helps our downtown businesses and attractions."