Navigating the Downtown Providence street network has improved greatly in recent years with efforts such as the Downtown Circulator Project, street reconstruction in the former I-195 area, and the ADA accessibility project on North and South Main streets. New street patterns require updated signage though, and until recently, dated wayfinding signs remained in place. Today, a public/private partnership led by The Providence Foundation is pleased to announce the installation of a comprehensive new wayfinding system that welcomes people into the city’s core, giving them a clear sense of orientation and helping them find their destinations.
For several years, The Providence Foundation, City of Providence, and the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau led a stakeholder committee that brought this project to fruition. The group began by identifying major attractions and transportation centers that met specific visitation criteria before developing a complete messaging plan. The first phase includes seventy vehicular wayfinding signs within the area bounded by Smith Street to the north, I-95 to the west, North/South Main Street to the east and Point Street to the south. Twenty signs are freestanding, while another fifty signs have been installed on existing cobrahead and decorative light poles. A few additional signs are located within construction areas and will be installed when appropriate.
Designed by John Seeley, formerly of Selbert Perkins Design and now with Providence-based Surface Matter Design, the new wayfinding system helps to brand the downtown area. The design intention was to create a modern and user-friendly system that relates to the capital city’s strong sense of place and complements the adjacent architecture. Dark blue panels feature bright, legible messages in a Futura typeface, while the word ‘Downtown’ appears vertically on side panels in a contrasting color. On all freestanding posts, the back panels depict graphic illustrations of iconic Providence landmarks.
Funding came from several sources including Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s Main Street Streetscape Improvement Fund, the Providence Tourism Council, the Providence Downtown Improvement District, the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, Providence Place, the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority, Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, Trinity Rep, Rhode Island School of Design, and Providence Performing Arts Center. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation also funded, produced, and installed several signs within the system on and around Point Street as part of its I-195 streetscape project.