Alternatives to the tired old ‘park information signs”?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Alternatives to the tired old ‘park information signs”?

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    Trace One

    Heather Smith raises a good point in other thread, about how tired those placards we like to place in our parks have become..The ‘instructional placard” posted at a 45 degree angle, with lists of native species you can see right in front of you, or the geology or history of the site.

    I am interested in what alternatives people have seen, that work for them..

    Museums are all using the ‘tune into your i-pod’ for guided tours, now, instead of renting out those big old listening devices..Has anybody seen that done for park information?

    Or any other bright ideas (public school kids welcome!)..

    It’s a good topic, for me..We are in the process of producing a series of ‘informational signs’, and my first reaction was, good god, can’t we think of something better? Maybe not..


    I was at Sitka National Historical Park a few weeks ago.  They have a 1-mile “totem trail” that follows a historic path around a battlefield with a dozen or so totem poles.  It was set up so you could use your cell phone to get a tour, hitting a new number at each pole and then learning what the totem represents, how old it was, etc.  There was minimal signage, which I think improved the trail experience (lots of scenic viewsheds and cool PNW rainforest stuff going on around us) but I actually preferred the trail map guides they gave out to using my iphone.

    Jason T. Radice

    Rather than the signs being the problem, I think its the content and quantity. We tend to over-sign things, thus my comment about getting a LEED point for putting in a sign next to every “eco-gutter,” no matter how small. They are everywhere…every project. Frankly, no one cares. You’ve see one, you seen them all according to the general public. It made sense when the designed systems were unique, but no longer.


    We tend to think everything is important, so let’s make a sign about it! I’m not sure if I like the “call this number” stuff, as it eats batteries now that smartphones get 5 minutes to the hour of charge. Personally, I couldn’t be bothered to call the number. The iPod thing, however, I do like. As I am meticulous in my travel preparations, it works very well. You just have to make sure you keep the sequence, and some have been confusing. They still need a paper guide for a map, and are excellent in drive-through parks like Gettysburg or Valley Forge. Both disrupt my Vivaldi while strolling through the National Gallery. There, them little signs make sense, and the iPod is a must (surprisingly noisy place…people cannot behave themselves anymore, especially the guards). 


    That being said, we still do need signage in places, but we must choose wisely. A good printed guide is still the best way to convey information, and you can take it with you. Perhaps the future lies in tablet apps or PDFs where you don’t need WiFi or 4G signal, and can be interactive for the kiddos. Download before you get there, and have at it! Patent Pending…

    Terry DeWan, FASLA

    Here’s a link to Nancy Montgomery’s web site..  She’s a talented graphic artist from Portland Maine who’s done a lot of work for MaineDOT, NPS, and White Mountain National Forest.  She brings a fresh approach to information display, incorporating photographs, historic documents, and a variety of other graphics.  We worked with her on the interpretive plan for the Kancamagus Scenic Byway in NH, designing over 6 dozen different interpretive panels for installation in 18 sites to help people understand the story behind the National Forest.



    Tosh K

    I’ve seen QR codes in Japan for plant ID, presumably they use it for urban forestry purposes as well.

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