in the news (145)

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february 2014 | by melissa boettcher | show project

A wave of funding is allocated to many different parks in Illinois each year for exhibits. Twenty-seven parks were on the list. Wading through the information, confirming how many kiosks or post, what color, determining the number of panels and sizes, helping the writer get the research materials, learning twenty seven different clients and finding answers began (and continues) the journey that is the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. All IDNR panels are laid out in a design standard created for two standard sizes, a small horizontal and a large vertical format.

But wait, what do you do if a client wants mini trail markers, a large horizontal format rather then a vertical format, or cutouts? After awhile you realize that each site is truly unique and has its own story that needs to be told... and you roll with it to apply standards to an ever-growing number of signs. This next generation of IDNR signs is as unique as the sites in these wonderful Illinois Parks.

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february 2014 | by susan jurasz

As we stand on the deck, the Forest Service hydrologist describes the lake that once lapped at the base of the uprights. It had been a reservoir locked behind an old dam. Today, the view is of alders and willow on a lush floodplain. The dam was removed in 2009 and the river restored to its meandering path.

The loss of the reservoir has been devastating to locals who grew up learning to swim at Hemlock Lake, but over the past 100 years, silt and sand deposited by the river had left the water only a few feet deep - potentially lethal to kids who jumped from the bridge and too warm for the few steelhead trying to pass. It is a bittersweet story to interpret. The restoration efforts are outstanding, 50,000 cubic yards of silt were removed, the dam deconstructed, and the freed river is now teeming with healthy steelhead.

But for a lot of locals, the occasion doesn't feel like a celebration. The picnic area is quiet. For myself, without a history at this site, the beauty of the natural river, flowing free and wild, is inspiring - in the face of climate change, where progress is defined as ever spanning towns and cities, this place represents a small miracle.

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january 2014 | by linda repplinger | show project

Handwriting can reveal a lot about a person and an era. As a young girl, I admired my grandma's perfectly looped cursive handwriting - she was so beautifully composed in a letter. I also enjoy looking over notes from my mom, all written in a friendly, optimistic hand and enhanced with humorous illustrations.

Sea Reach has recently had a couple of projects where the interpretive story unfolds in a letter or series of postcards. For me, designing the letters and creating the handwriting was like casting characters.

Our latest project of this nature was a "Path to The Past" at a picnic site in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Along the trail, a series of letters tucked into old canvas mailbags reveal what it may have been like to be a young man working on a Civilian Conservation Corps team in the early 1930s. Tom, a fictional "CCC boy," learns new skills, develops self confidence, and sends earnings home to help his family.

Casting the handwriting of Tom started with some research. What type of writing utensils were used in the early 1930s? The ball point pen didn't make its mark until after it was patented by Laszlo Bira in 1938. Fountain pens were popular in the 1930s, but I settled on a pencil, which would have been more likely to work even in the cold mountain weather. Next, I researched handwriting samples from the 1930s, on the internet and in my own ancestors' documents, to pick an appropriate style for Tom.

While copying Tom's letters, I had to slow down from my quick dashes to achieve the angular, deliberate letters of that handwriting style. I was later to learn that young men in the CCC actually took classes to improve their handwriting skills!

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december 2013 | by megan whitaker

My kids and I left rainy Coos Bay and headed north on Highway 101 - destination Heceta Head Lighthouse. As the day wore on, sun broke through the clouds and when we rounded the corner at mile marker 177, there it was in the distance.
Five minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot for the last tour of the day. Our volunteer was an enthusiastic woman who raved about the renovation of the lighthouse and our involvement in the signage.

My kids were impressed that for early keepers a trip to Florence - which we could see it in the distance - was a seven-hour wagon journey. And the trip had to be timed correctly with the tides lest you be left high and not so dry!

The guided tour was a nice bonus, but for those who arrive outside these hours, our panels help fill the void and shed some light on the workings of a modern lighthouse.

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december 2013 | by susan jurasz | show project

At Desert View, visitors don't just look over any desert. They look out over THE desert. The desert which witnessed and endured the testing of atomic weaponry. These moments changed the history of our country and brought the entire world into a new "technological" era - the atomic age.

The success or failure of these exhibits depended as much upon adapting to the landscape as it did the interpretation. The walkway from parking lot to final presentation cul-de-sac took advantage of a striking change in elevation. This in turn generated a series of hairpin turns on the walkway. Signage found placement en-route to the two cul-de-sac arenas that were created for the "longer story" interpretive presentations.

The viewing circles at the cul-de-sacs presented an interesting design and assembly challenge, one that we came to see as a "curve on a curve on a slope." The shape of the panels imitated the arc of the circular pad. The angle of each sign had to be placed so that each one was shaped like a flower petal that is tapered, having a wider top than base. The fact that the cement pad itself requires a slope allowing for drainage created a difficult challenge during installation but ultimately provided the perfect setup to juxtapose the natural beauty of the scenery and created a stunning spot to reflect on our national past.

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october 2013 | by susan jurasz

Two of our favorite artists, Laura Bender and John Early of Sitepainters, approached us to assist them in fabricating a couple of sculptures to be displayed at a bus shelter in Grants Pass, Oregon. We began with two beautiful miniature models that the artists had designed to communicate the idea to the City of Grants Pass and the Art Commission.

Our challenge was to take these foot-tall models and scale them to over 12 feet tall. That meant translating the complex shapes jutting out from one another at irregular angles, cuts-outs revealing layers in multiple colors, and dangling chimes into the language of CAD drawings, so our fabricators could bend, punch and cut the material with water jets As the larger-than-life sculptures began to take shape, it felt like Alice and Wonderland. On the day of installation, the sculptures were the perfect size and shape, and the fall hues in surrounding trees accentuated the colors. Once again Laura and John had proved their talent for creating magic in an ordinary place.

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september 2013 | by melissa boettcher

Aw, survey work. What do I say about it? I describe it as walking, locating an object to be observed, unpacking tools, measuring object, recording data, GPS tracking, photo of the area around the object, placing a field ruler next to the object of observation to photograph scale, and then packing up to walk to the next object. For Beaverton, we were seeking the elusive existing vehicular signage under overgrown plants, in parking lots, on crazy busy streets, in bushes, and in plain sight. The task was to record what signs were currently installed so we can evaluate what works and what doesn't.

Now you may ask, what did you measure? Good question. We measured the size of the signs, the height of the poles, distance from the street, etc. Wait, how do you do that from the ground? Good question. We climbed walls and slowly crept the ruler up the side of the pole to latch onto the sign viewing from the ground the measurements. It resulted in two days of hilarious fun trying to get this much-needed data. Survey work for me has never been this much fun.

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september 2013 | by alex ogle

Sea Reach recently had the opportunity to develop interpretive signage for the beautiful historic Goodpasture Covered Bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Goodpasture Covered Bridge was built in 1938 and was named for Benjamin Franklin Goodpasture, a pioneer farmer who had settled near the bridge site. At 165 feet long, it is the second largest covered bridge in Oregon and can be found two miles west of the community of Vida, spanning McKenzie River.

In 2010 Lane County received $2 million in a federal transportation grants to renovate the bridge to its former glory with work beginning in 2012. The bridge was constructed using the Howe truss system developed in 1840 by William Howe, an architect hailing from Massachusetts.

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september 2013 | by melissa boettcher

Returning to the Princess Denali Wilderness Lodge four months after our first visit in May, we are greeted with warmth. What a welcome relief. Sunshine, warm bright buildings, an area full of life, brightly colored flowers and excited tourists.

This trip was to roll-out the new wayfinding system. As all the pedestrian directionals, building signs, room numbers, maps and kiosks were installed, the place began to look like a destination. It was rewarding leaning over the rails and observing people stepping off the buses. I could see them put the pieces together to find their way to their rooms without trouble.

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august 2013 | by susan jurasz

Typically projects with cities require opportunities for the general public to express interest or concerns for the location or design of a project that will be part of a public space. For wayfinding projects the list of stakeholders and public outreach can be extensive. Public meetings can be highly productive or a real bust and the difference is all in the preparation, knowing your audience, and creating a platform where everyone speaks. For the Beaveton Downtown Wayfinding open house, the city sent out the invitations and Sea Reach designed the format and conducted the meeting. It was important to us to hear all voices equally, so we set up a series of seven stations. Each manned by Sea Reach staff.

As people entered the room, I greeted each person, introduced the project and the format, gave them a page of colored sticky dots (for voting) and sent them on the circuit. At each station, they got a 2-3 minute introduction to something pertaining to the project that we wished to poll the public - color, nomenclature, destinations, best walking routes, best bike routes, where do you park, how do you describe the downtown in one or two adjectives, what do you consider the perimeter of the Downtown? Every person that entered the room cast a vote, drew a line or circle on a map, or wrote down what was important to them about the Downtown. The circuit kept people moving - as they finished with one set of decisions they were on to the next. Each "station master" collected and consolidated the information into useful information that shaped the design phase of the project. At the second open house, people who returned could see the results of their efforts and how it influenced the project.

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