LOS ALAMOS, NM – As part of its effort to build up its tourist industry Los Alamos County contracted MERJE, a nationally recognized design firm, to produce a County-wide Wayfinding plan.
This recommendation came from the Manhattan Project Park Advisory citizen committee and Council approved funding for the effort for this fiscal year. During a public meeting held June 15 in Council Chambers, John Bosio of MERJE presented a preliminary wayfinding analysis as well as unveiled three design options to solicit public feedback.
Wayfinding, according to a recent County press release, encompasses a variety of tools that help guide people to their destination, this includes signage, maps and digital tools. Wayfinding programs also help establish an identity and reinforce a sense of place. Regions, cities, towns and communities of all sizes are establishing wayfinding programs to provide a better experience for their visitors.
Bosio pointed out wayfinding is not a new concept to Los Alamos; the County has signs but does not have a sign system.
To change this, Bosio revealed three design concepts that address different aspects of the County. One focuses on science and technology. The concept suggests a few interactive signs and others that would feature either a quote or fact about Los Alamos in the back side. Another concept pays homage to the local environment with signs featuring materials that reflect the local landscape as well as galvanized steel. The final option centered on a historic, retro design that is similar to the U.S. Post Office building. All three designs feature solar-powered lights and color schemes similar to those found in the County’s new logo.
Bosio encouraged feedback on the different designs and emphasized that it wasn’t necessary to select just one concept; the concepts could be blended together. The goal, he said, was to walk away with some base for a design.
Peggy Pendergast, one of the attendees at the meeting, asked what would happen to current signs around town. Bosio said those signs would be removed in an effort to make a more consistent and efficient process. David Izraelevitz, who attended the meeting as a citizen, said whatever design is selected, it needs to be uniformed. “I feel whatever we do we have to be consistent with that,” he said. Brady Burke, another attendee at the meeting, also felt consistency was important. He wondered how the signs could be maintained so in the future, all the signs continue to look like the ones proposed in the design concepts.
Bosio said the wayfinding analysis would have a strategy section and would detail how to maintain the signs five years down the road, 10 years down the road, etc. There would also be a design guideline so if a new destination is constructed and it requires a sign, the sign’s design would follow the guidelines in place. Assistant to the County Manager Linda Matteson told the Daily Post that the design concepts MERJE created is part of a service agreement the design firm has with the County. “They would generate three schematic designs inspired by various aspects of the town,” she said.
To create these design concepts, Matteson said MERJE representatives toured Los Alamos in March and visited with various local entities including community stakeholders, representatives from local attractions such as the Los Alamos Nature Center and Los Alamos History Museum and a County internal steering committee. To find out where tourists should visit in Los Alamos and how they should get from point A to point B, Matteson said MERJE representatives “kind of immersed themselves in the area.”
Once the public’s concerns, likes and dislikes for the concepts are gathered, Matteson said MERJE will complete develop its analysis report to include a fourth concept that addresses all the public input. Once the report is completed, then work will begin on scouting out the signs’ location, language and design package.
Kirsten Laskey | Los Alamos Daily Post