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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ferndale Way-finding Sign Project, Ferndale, Michigan



The Ferndale Way-finding project was supported by a Preserve America grant. What resulted from this, thanks to the tireless work of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority, City of Ferndale, National Parks Service and other partners is something that truly amazed me a few months ago when I visited Ferndale for the first time in a long while.

What Ferndale did well is take a typically stodgy topic – interpretive and way-finding signs – and update these to make them both fun and friendly. Let's start with the interpretive signs first. These are placed at strategic locations throughout the community. The sites they refer to is visually proximate to the sign. This allows for some interesting comparison of historical photos with the buildings as they appear today. The casing for the sign has a marquee in green and white with the word "Ferndale" in large block letters. The interpretive panel is surmounted by a large scale photograph. Text describing the landmark is below. The reverse side of each sign has a “Fun Ferndale Fact.” I found these signs to be both playful and instructive.

Some of the many sites featured with an interpretive sign are the Evangelical Association, Pioneer & Merriman Apartments, Five and Dime, Ferndale State Bank and Ferndale Central School

Interpretive sign showing building in background.

Sign system working together in concert to guide and direct.



Another type of sign used are the way-finding directional signs. Here the marquee motif is used again, though it is shrunk in size to fit a smaller sized sign. The white and green are inverted to create a white background with green text over it. In the directional portion of the sign with arrows and names of sites, a green background and white text and arrows make the content jump out. There are two versions of the directional signs - a larger version on the street targeted towards automobile traffic, and a smaller version on the sidewalk targeted towards pedestrians.

Automobile oriented way-finding on street.

Pedestrian oriented way-finding on pedestrian alley.

There is one final sign type that completed the sign system. The Parking directional signs carry the Ferndale marquee logo, and then have a "P" in a circle along with an arrow. This effectively serves a purpose to direct people to parking while reinforcing the visual identity of the sign system.

Parking directional signs carry the visual identity of the overall sign system.


Business listings and map for the downtown.

Detail of map with downtown broken into 4 color-coded districts.

Office of the Ferndale DDA that undertook the way-finding sign project.