To commemorate the posting of new photos of our Design District project onto our flickr page, I’ve decided to write a bit about the project.
First off, here is a little history about the area. The Dallas Design District originated in the 1950s as a “Strictly To the Trade Only” collection of design showrooms and galleries. Low rent and prime warehouse space along the district’s Dragon Street, enabled a wave of art gallery owners to set up shop, thereby christening its spot as Dallas’ premier art locale. With all the movement, came attention.
Centrally located near Downtown Dallas, just opposite I-35 from Uptown’s Victory Park complex, the district oozed potential for redevelopment. Unfortunately, years of neglect had left streets filled with potholes, broken or non-existent sidewalks and medians covered with dead grass and mangled trees. To fix these problems and encourage new economic development, the city of Dallas stepped in to create a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Fund. Together with TBG Partners, Good Fulton & Farrell and developer PegasusAblon, focusEGD developed a plan to revitalize the Design District experience for a whole new set of users.
The direction was to create a gateway into the district, something sculptural that changes from every angle. Additionally it had to be easily replicated in other parts of the district.
Coming from downtown Dallas, users pass under two major highways and one set of train tracks. To break up the monotony of these stationary pillars, we envisioned a wave, gently leading the user into the heart of the district. In developing the form, we took inspirational cues from sculptural artists Mark Di Suvero and Richard Serra.
The wave eventually took the form of i-beams in order to reference the idea of foundation, a symbol of structural beginnings, the first piece put into place when something new develops. Aside from that, it is simply an interesting form.
Graphically, we drew from the classic Knoll posters of Massimo Vignelli, particularly with the integration of Pantone Warm Red C as the projects primary color.
The major influence however, was the discovery of Le Corbusier’s preferred stenciling typeface known as Charette. The stencils themselves became the link we needed to give the project a somewhat urban, yet very elegant edge.
From there, we created a distinguishing graphic identity that could be replicated throughout signage elements in the district.
Our hope is the gateway, identity and other signage elements help set the tone for development within the district. The Design District is destined to become Dallas’ next great neighborhood.