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Signs of the Times in Downtown Santa Monica

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark


Rusty's Surf

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jorge Casuso

July 24, 2013 -- The corner of Wilshire and the Promenade will get a $150,000 makeover that includes new signs, directories, news racks and light poles that will serve as a template for a more uniform look in Downtown Santa Monica.

The new streetscape provides a “unified visual identity” that will make the city’s vibrant center more attractive and easy to navigate, said Doug Suisman, who is overseeing the project’s design.

“There will be a visual language that ties it together so it all feels part of the same system of street furnishings,” said Suisman, principal of the Santa Monica-based Suisman Urban Design.

The plan replaces disparate signs overlaid over the past 30 years and integrates the new signage system so “visitors who come on foot, bus, bike or car can easily find their way around to the parking, shops and cultural destinations,” Suisman said.

The pilot project also includes replacing two light poles with energy efficient poles that use LED lamping and have a “more contemporary look.” The poles will be stripped of the signs, security camera cables and bird deflectors that make the current ones resemble “coat racks everyone hangs things on,” Suisman said.

In addition, the “jumble of existing news racks” will be grouped and organized within a single container.

Perhaps the most dramatic feature will be the proposed 30 to 40-foot tall wayfinding pylons that would mark each intersection of the Promenade. “One aspect of the Promenade is that it looks so similar from one end to the other,” Suisman said. “The idea is that no matter where you are, you’ll be able to see two signs from any point.”

Kathleen Rawson, who heads DTSM, believes the plan is a cost-effective way to replace an aging infrastructure whose components often have “no rhyme or reason.”

“As money becomes available, we’ll expand the pilot program to the rest of Downtown,” Rawson said. “It’s the old things that we’re replacing first. We are a world-class destination with millions of visitors each year. Our infrastructure should match.”

Suisman is currently preparing the final design documents so the City can put out bids by mid to late summer. The pilot project is also expected to go before the City Council this summer for a final go-ahead.

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