The Gallery District & 124th Street Wayfinding

The Gallery District is a small section of the 124th Street Area, a defined business revitalization zone in Edmonton’s core that is anchored by the nominal arterial road that runs from north to south on the west side of Jasper Avenue. This street is home to local businesses, artisans, cafes & various art galleries and is currently undergoing revitalization.

The 124th Street Area hosts hundreds of small shops, cafes, and boutiques that form one of Edmonton’s major shopping districts. The Gallery District consists of a few blocks on the
southernmost length of the street, named as such due to several private art galleries found within proximity to one another.

During the first week of our project, our team considered several different candidate locations. However, after we each visited the Gallery District, we decided to move forward with this location. This decision was made because of two major factors: the existing identity of the Gallery District was lacking from several perspectives including
functionality, consistency, and accessibility. Secondly, we agreed that the unique
artistic community of the area showed great potential for a distinctive identity for our system. Both of these factors demonstrated the need for a design intervention in the area in order to facilitate wayfinding for visitors to the District.

The major concerns of wayfinding are user orientation, identity, reception, and cultural impact. From a functional aspect, signage helps people find their way and act as an entry point into physical environments. The signage identity we have created has a strong underlying visual identity that considers the existing City of Edmonton visual identity to maintain consistency but also establish a unique identity localized to the Gallery District.

Our goal with this system is to have people feel welcomed into this community of local
establishments and gallery spaces as the revitalization of 124th Street continues, particularly during our current moment of pandemic. The system invites users to casually navigate the District’s recurring Gallery Walk while also exploring the services, restaurants, and local businesses also located on 124th Street.

Another important and perhaps more subtle implication of our wayfinding system is to create a sense of community and placemaking within the Gallery District. By creating a flexible and expandable wayfinding system, there is potential to foster the cultural and social values of supporting local businesses and artists.

This is a collaborative research design project with Mika Yeo, Michael Abenojar and Angus Bryan.

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