While financial considerations are always a priority for developers, making the most out of available funds and maximizing the impact of every expense is an especially critical priority in the current marketplace. “Facelift” design that uses graphics, signage, lighting, landscaping and architectural detailing to re-imagine and reinvent without wholesale reconstruction is a great way to invest wisely and get more for your money. The real value in this newly favorable cost-benefit equation is in the impact that a thoughtfully executed graphic redesign initiative can have on shoppers and guests.
Intellectually, people inherently see things such as painted panels, wall murals and frescoes as simple decoration. But in the animated public spaces of commercial and mixed-use developments, these elements function as much more than just “eye candy.” Graphics, lighting, signage and architectural detailing can unify or divide a space both visually and conceptually; they can animate, direct, inspire, comfort and engage. Ultimately, they have the power to create a unique and defining identity while improving the visitor’s experience.
Consequently, we at DDG believe it is possible to leverage the power of graphic and visual design elements to execute a skillful graphics renovation of a retail or mixed-use center for a fraction of the cost of a ground-up reconstruction. Existing commercial properties that either are underperforming or have challenges to overcome can often be solved and improved through a variety of renovation tactics.
At Rockville Town Square, an urban mixed use development in Maryland’s affluent Montgomery County, we designed a new signage system and architectural parking garage enhancements as part of a bold revitalization. Although ideally situated along a heavily trafficked road the project has a complex location and obstructed visibility. Owner/developer Federal Realty Investment Trust turned to DDG to help realize their goal of pulling visitors into and navigating them throughout the project by: successfully “announcing” the district with strong project identification signage; increasing wayfinding effectiveness that will quickly and easily guide visitors to entry points; and along the main thoroughfare communicating the presence of tenants that are 1-3 blocks away. Our design approach reinvigorates this urban space in a way that maintains the surrounding community aesthetic while conveying a fresh and instantly recognizable new identity and wayfinding system.
Projects like Rockville Town Square exemplify ways in which experienced developers understand how important it is to make visitors feel welcome and relaxed. Happy, comfortable shoppers and diners stay longer, come back sooner and revisit often. One of the greatest benefits of a budget-friendly graphic redesign and aesthetic overhaul is the degree to which a few strategic enhancements can have a dramatically favorable effect on the public’s opinion of the project. DDG is excited to witness more and more development professionals beginning to recognize the importance of revitalization and how environmental graphics can help to redefine a space and in the end improve performance.
To view additional images of Rockville Town Square in progress you can check out our previous post here.