Event Title

Analyzing Signage on an Ethnic Retail Street: The Case of Devon Avenue, Chicago

Mentor 1

Arijit Sen

Location

Union Wisconsin Room

Start Date

24-4-2015 2:30 PM

End Date

24-4-2015 3:45 PM

Description

Chicago’s Devon Avenue is home to a vast array of South Asian immigrant stores. These stores utilize an abundance of visual information in the form of signage to attract and communicate with customers. Signage on Devon Avenue is densely layered over preexisting architectural facades dating back to the early-mid twentieth century. The visual culture of signs transform this retail street into a unique South Asian immigrant space. The character of this street has been described as cluttered and disorderly and the city government has tried to work with local businesses in order to organize the street signage. This research argues that the material culture of this street has its own generative logic. In order to understand and analyze patterns that organize the signs and visual character of this street we identified a series of street blocks and studied building facades. Our research organized the street signage into four types based on categories such as permanence or longevity, function or use, material and construction details, and extent of protrusion from the wall plane. Permanence refers to the life span of the signs. The function or purpose of the signs ranged from personal to institutional uses. Material refers to how these signs were put together, including functional characteristics such as visibility and cost of manufacturing. Protrusion refers to the distance the sign extends from the wall façade. / / These patterns indicate that, despite a seeming cacophony, there is a visual order to the way signage is organized along Devon Avenue. This research is relevant because it informs designers, architects, urban planners, and urban policy makers about the unique and local character of this urban retail strip. The analysis of signage provides insight into the importance and impact it has on the built environment.

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Apr 24th, 2:30 PM Apr 24th, 3:45 PM

Analyzing Signage on an Ethnic Retail Street: The Case of Devon Avenue, Chicago

Union Wisconsin Room

Chicago’s Devon Avenue is home to a vast array of South Asian immigrant stores. These stores utilize an abundance of visual information in the form of signage to attract and communicate with customers. Signage on Devon Avenue is densely layered over preexisting architectural facades dating back to the early-mid twentieth century. The visual culture of signs transform this retail street into a unique South Asian immigrant space. The character of this street has been described as cluttered and disorderly and the city government has tried to work with local businesses in order to organize the street signage. This research argues that the material culture of this street has its own generative logic. In order to understand and analyze patterns that organize the signs and visual character of this street we identified a series of street blocks and studied building facades. Our research organized the street signage into four types based on categories such as permanence or longevity, function or use, material and construction details, and extent of protrusion from the wall plane. Permanence refers to the life span of the signs. The function or purpose of the signs ranged from personal to institutional uses. Material refers to how these signs were put together, including functional characteristics such as visibility and cost of manufacturing. Protrusion refers to the distance the sign extends from the wall façade. / / These patterns indicate that, despite a seeming cacophony, there is a visual order to the way signage is organized along Devon Avenue. This research is relevant because it informs designers, architects, urban planners, and urban policy makers about the unique and local character of this urban retail strip. The analysis of signage provides insight into the importance and impact it has on the built environment.