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Finding Your Way in Our Capital City

Good signs make ‘meaningful experiences’

Are we there yet?    
    No, dear.
    But in a couple of years, visitors to our capital city will arrive surely at their destinations, guided by a new Wayfinding Master Plan.
    Wayfinding is a fancy word for signs with a lot of thought behind them.
    Sixty-five thousand dollars worth of thought.
    That’s how much Merje Designs is earning to plan a system of signs to guide visitors into the life of the city.
    Paying the bill is a grant from the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, a partnership including Baltimore and six surrounding counties that collaborates on sustainable regional strategies, plans and programs.
    From big signs marking thoroughfares leading you into the city, the imagined signs get smaller, more specific and more decorative as you near destinations. Maps, directions, directional arrows and distances make the going easier. Quick Response Codes link you electronically to still more detailed information.
    The idea is to “present the city in a positive manner at each point, from the walls of the parking garages to a clean Circulator” said Merje partner John Bosio, introducing the plan to the public in meetings at city hall last week.
    Three graphic alternatives, each referencing elements of city architecture and appeal, are part of the package. Then the designs are rated and reviewed by the city’s 10-person Wayfinding Steering Committee plus the Historic Preservation Commission and the city Planning Commission.
    That’s happening now. The next step, according to city planner Sally Nash, is finding the money — likely a combination of state and federal grants — to put the plan on the streets.