Reading, MA– Last year the Town was awarded a $15,000 “Downtown Initiative” grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Housing and Community Development. The grant funded the hiring of Mark Favermann of Favermann Design, a design firm, who conducted several meetings with a Working Group comprised of town officials and downtown business leaders, to develop a branding and wayfinding plan for Reading. For example, a well-attended community meeting was held in Whitelam Books, a relatively new downtown business. A major component of the plan will include developing a “brand” for the Town that emphasizes the Town of Reading’s unique strengths and personality. The plan also includes designs for an attractive network of signage as part of a “wayfinding plan” that will reinforce the brand and make it easier for motorists to find public parking and then patronize local businesses.
The Select Board approved the design concept presented at a meeting on January 23, 2018, which included new branding that includes community-representative art, a family of elements for wayfinding signage for deployment across the downtown region, and maps of locations for future signage.
The Town is considering Phase II of the project which would include specifications, refinement of detail around locations, and consideration of a kiosk in the downtown area.
Once the details of the wayfinding and branding work are completed, the Town’s website, ReadingMA.gov, will be updated to offer a consistent look and feel across multiple channels of engagement with the community.
Some of the elements included in the new artwork are silhouettes of prominent town buildings including Town Hall, the Depot, Parker Tavern, the Library, and the Pleasant Street Center as well as the fanlight window at the front door of Town Hall.
“The fanlight window at the front entrance to Town Hall, which is similar to one at the Library, offers an architectural theme that we wanted to capture in our branding,” said Assistant Town Manager Jean Delios.
The public will have a chance to take a closer look at the design work at a future Community Preservation and Development Commission (CPDC) meeting. Further opportunities will come with a forum in the autumn for a discussion of ongoing downtown parking work.
The Town has prioritized efforts such as wayfinding/branding as a vital part of an ongoing multi-pronged economic development effort that promotes business growth and improves the experience of the patron in downtown Reading. The ultimate goal is to help reduce business turnover, eliminate confusion, and continue to revive the downtown.