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Workshop kicks off way-finding sign project

Public shares perceptions, ideas for downtown signs


Before downtown Beaverton can have attractive and effective destination-finding signs, its residents need to determine where people want to go in the first place.

That was the premise of a three-hour workshop on Monday at the Beaverton City Library to develop a Wayfinding Systems Plan. The project is designed to make the city easier to navigate by bike, car, on foot or via public transportation. by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: CHARLES JURASZ - Brian Walker, chairman of the Beaverton Bicycle Advisory Committee, shares thoughts on the proposed way-finding sign plan for the city with Peter Reedijk, design director at Sea Reach Ltd., at a workshop on Monday evening at the Beaverton City Library.

City officials and representatives of Sheridan-based Sea Reach Ltd., the company charged with developing a way-finding system, shared information and gathered input from about 50 visitors who stopped by the library’s Meeting Room B to learn and contribute.

Expected to be complete by November, the Wayfinding Systems Plan will focus on identifying sign locations, establishing a sign design and implementing an installation program. The project comprises six phases: a way-finding systems plan, information kiosks, vehicular signs, bicycle signs, pedestrian signs and community gateways.

Peter Reedijk, design director at Sea Reach, said way-finding signs seem simple and natural once they’re part of the landscape, but getting to that point is more complex than many people realize.

“This is a messy process,” he said on Monday. “We have to get everybody on the same page, include everybody and make them feel like they’re part of the process. We need to have all the information and input to design a system that most people can relate to.”

Workshop participants were asked to pinpoint Central Beaverton’s most notable landmarks, parks, businesses and neighborhood districts, the routes they typically use to reach them and their perceptions about different parts of town.

“This is a fact-finding mission for people who work here and play here,” said Susan Jurasz, president of Sea Reach. “What is the perception of the downtown area? What are the adjectives they use to describe it? Historical. Modern. Fun. Commercial. Clean. Dirty.

“Words help us with the aesthetic design, so what we design is considered fiercely local,” she added. “What are the feelings about the community we want to portray to visitors?”

Other questions were directed at nomenclature, how common destinations should be labeled, and destinations: What do residents and visitors go to a particular place for? Do they leave their cars? Do they go somewhere else afterwards? What are their transportation modes? Do they use certain thoroughfares?

City officials intend the plan to highlight downtown’s unique features, including attractions in the historic district, public art, sustainability-related projects, civic landmarks, and public bike and vehicle parking.

Reedijk and other Sea Reach representatives spent nearly two months walking, biking and driving around the city to formulate parameters to share with the public to form a working plan. The company has worked on similar way-finding plans in Portland, Seattle, and Renton, Wash.

“It was really hands-on, instead of trying to do something from inside your office,” Reedijk said. “We took a snapshot in time.”

Brian Walker, a Greenway neighbor and chairman of the Beaverton Bicycle Advisory Committee, said a way-finding sign and infrastructure plan has been an action item on the group’s agenda for some time.

“We were pleasantly pleased (the city) took this up,” he said at the workshop. “It’s good to get the process rolling. It’s something that will be helpful to the city, and one of the ingredients to get people walking and biking.”

The project builds on the work of the Downtown Beaverton Walking Map, funded in 2012 through a $5,000 grant from the Washington County Visitors Association. The grant resulted in the design and development of a brochure and interactive web-based map.

The project also is part of the Creekside District’s Canyon Road Project, designed to improve the walkability of downtown Beaverton through increased signage, lighting and streetscape improvements.

“The scope in terms of the project, is on the downtown area,” Walker said. “It’s a good start. Personally, I’d like to see it all around the area.”

Michael Rizzitiello, the city’s new economic development project coordinator, said he gained experience in way-finding projects through his previous role in the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, which represents 42 Chicago suburbs.

“We did some very similar stuff,” he said, adding, “We need input from all the communities to understand the boundaries of downtown.”

Rizzitiello, who joined the city of Beaverton’s staff about nine months ago, said the next workshop, focused on sign designs and aesthetics, will likely be held in late October. The project could begin as early as mid-2014.

“We think this is a very exciting project for the city,” he said.




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