Neon is not a dirty word
The DC DNA launched their new blog yesterday with a posting that calls for “signage legislation that addresses the entire downtown area and a moratorium on any new advertising signage until we have it.” The genesis of this call for signage legislation was spurred by Western Development’s recent interest in expanding their signage at Gallery Place according to allowances specified in the condo documents.
The proposal for new signage at Gallery Place is a special case as it is multi-media signage (video, no sound) that spans 6+ stories. I won’t take a side on that debate one way or another as I don’t feel I fully grasp the logistics of the proposed signage or how it would impact the condo residents. I couldn’t follow the presentation fully but it may be only feet from the residents windows.
It’s hyperbole to suggest Gallery Place is on the brink of becoming Times Square
However, I do want to say that 1) I love what great signs do for a street and the public realm 2) I don’t think “neon” is a dirty word and 3) I think downtown DC has a deficit of quality signage. I will also add that I find the Gallery Place is becoming Times Square claims a little silly and akin to every DC neighborhood that worries about about becoming the next Adams Morgan because two bars opened up =)
A few D.C. neon signs:
Central Liquor, Penn Quarter
Studio Theatre, Logan Circle
Lincoln Theatre, U Street
Waffle Shop, formerly Penn Quarter
Signs from other cities: with special emphasis on Belltown which has Seattle’s highest population density (~20,000/sqmi) proving neon and residents can co-exist.
If downtown signage legislation is needed I hope that it does not close the door to interesting and dynamic signage. Steering signage towards the path of being small and discreet to appease the most objectionable of residents diminishes the ability to create a vibrant place. Let’s keep the door open to some forms of colorful signage. Ideally for local businesses like boutique hotels, theatres or restaurants rather than McDonalds or CVS…
Photo credits: M.V. Jantzen, ThomasHawk, ghengis connie, Mr. T in DC, Patrick Saccoccia
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