By Beth Treffeisen
For many local residents who run, bike, or even roller blade down the Charles River Esplanade, the wooden signs that pop up here and there may just blend into the background. But, for many tourists, these signs act as a guide to one of Boston’s most notable parks.
A partnership between the Esplanade Association and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), has come up with a new design to make these signs pop.
Robert Adams a principal at Halvorson Design proposed the new updated signs that include both way finders and interpretive plaques with historical references at the Boston Landmarks Commission hearing April 25.
“The project started when the Esplanade Association received contributions from generous donors,” said Adams. “And there has been a need for new way finding signs there for quite some time.”
It includes replacing of seven existing kiosks and installation of two new entry signs in new locations. The project also includes replacement of eight existing interpretive panels that have historical context on them.
These signs will have two panels that will sport a map with points and instructions, a statement from the Esplanade Association, and a rotating events side that can easily be swapped out for special events.
The two panels will sit on top of concrete footings and have wood and stainless steal poles. A green marker will make the signs more visible to those on the look out for them. They are designed to withstand the elements and also to be easily cleaned from graffiti.
The Boston Landmarks Commission approved this project with a few changes. The Commission asked that the designers use stainless steel instead of a green stripe on the kiosks for consistency, consider shortening the concrete base of the kiosks, use a consistent design vocabulary between the kiosks and interpretive panels, and to ensure the concrete bases meet accessibility requirements.
“I would say they need to be a bit more uniformed,” said Commissioner Brad Walker. “I wish there was more commonality between the systems so that people can interrupt it as the same system.”
Adams said that after working with many different stakeholders involved they struggled with many variations of the signs to get to the design that they presented.
Commissioner David Berarducci said that he liked the design even though it had a lot going on and questioned whether or not people would actually stop and read them.
Alexi Conine, Chair of the Board of the Esplanade Association, disagreed.
“I use the park a lot, whether I’m running, biking or walking, I do see park users looking at the signs deeply,” said Conine. “They are really appreciated and read.”
A representative from DCR voiced its support for the project stating that the signs differ from other DCR parks but that the department believes the Esplanade is a different enough park to have its own signage and language.
The updated signs are expected to land in the park by this upcoming fall.