News: Façade Improvement Program Rethinks the City
More than 40 downtown buildings will be “dressing up” during the coming season, thanks to more than $600,000 in Connective Corridor façade improvement grants awarded to downtown property owners. Among the changes: new awnings and canopies, outdoor bistro tables, chairs and umbrellas, lighting displays and banners, custom benches, bike racks, window treatments, façade painting, murals, planters and landscaping, decorative fences, art-grade pavers, window and door replacements, and other architectural features.
Guiding the façade improvement program is a community-based working group, a recently adopted Syracuse Connective Corridor Overlay District, and a “Kit of Parts” developed by the OLIN Partnership, in conjunction with UPSTATE, Pentagram, Tillett and B&L. The project, which includes creative branding ideas, is part of “Rethinking the city,” according to the designers involved in the project.
The façade grant review committee included:
• Joe Sisko, UPSTATE
• Owen Kerney, City of Syracuse
• Merike Treier, The Downtown Committee / CenterState CEO
• George Curry, Faculty, SUNY ESF
• Karyn Korteling, Pastabilities (representing local business)
One of the unique features of the project is the integration of a new “brand typeface” – OHM, which makes distinctive use of the word USE within the context of other words. (Including SyracUSE, there are nearly 420 other words that integrate USE). The flexibility of the typography gives property owners the ability to promote and identify destinations, events, or themes around the corridor, or the city at large. The goal is partner branding – with short messages such as USE the bus … USE your feet … USE art … USE inspiration … ReUSE …
Some great examples are already in place. The Delevan and Community Folk Art Center are just two examples. But watch for more “signs” emerging during the spring and summer construction seasons, as downtown partners put the brand to work with both variety and vitality. And, watch the Corridor come alive with color, as the kits of parts becomes “infUSEd” through the city as a new family of street furnishings, supplementing other elements that have been carefully selected for use in the Connective Corridor.
Based on the success of the program, the Connective Corridor will be seeking funds to enable a second round, and will be putting together a funding application as part of the next competitive NYS REDC’s round of funding.