The Identity System

Hello Everyone!
Thanks for your help throughout this entire process. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Please view each part in the following sequence for full effect!

Total estimated viewing time: 18 minutes

1. Research Documentary on Santa Ana



2. Proposal of the Identity System: View PDF of visual elements.


3. Slideshow of Identity System in Action

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Thesis Presentations at CalArts

I promised that I would have the design up today, the day after thesis. But it’s not ready yet! There are some revisions I need to make. Within a week, I will have it up!

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“Gentrification Wars”, an Airtalk broadcast with Larry Mantle at Librería Martínez in Santa Ana

Larry Mantle shaking hands with Councilwoman Michelle Martinez at Libreria Martinez, Santa Ana

Larry Mantle shaking hands with Councilwoman Michelle Martinez at Libreria Martinez, Santa Ana

I was so happy to be able to attend this live interview in Santa Ana. It was packed!! It crystallized my understanding of Downtown Santa Ana’s struggles with unity, development, socioeconomic class differences, and community participation in its urgent need for progress. Larry Mantle is a deft, razor-sharp interviewer. We had City Council members Busty Bustamante and Michelle Martinez, dentist Arturo Lomeli, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD) head Eric Altman, and longtime Centro Cultural de México volunteer Carolina Sarmiento to represent both sides of the pro- and con- gentrification movement. The audience was comprised of 35 and older mostly Latino and Anglo people. There were no teenagers and very few 20-somethings to represent the emerging population. Some of the questions I had asked during my sidewalk outreach program, Larry also asked, but with greater insistence. I mean, man, he really took no prisoners and grilled them.

It was clear to me that neighborhood involvement, creating a vision with community buy-in, and design are part of the solution. That’s my thesis!!!

You can hear the whole broadcast on Airtalk. Be sure to listen to the Q&A at the end. When Larry asked each what their ideal Downtown Santa Ana is, I feel that they could describe it on abstract and peripheral terms but not in concrete ones. Larry kept asking, “But what does it look like?” Nobody could really answer. Of course, I’m working on it right now!

At the end, I got to meet Gustavo Arellano who writes the “¡Ask A Mexican!” column in the OC Weekly and is regular writer of the in’s and out’s of culture and politics in OC. He also wrote a review in the OC Weekly full of biting humor about the interview and discussion.

Gustavo Arellano and me!

Gustavo Arellano and me!

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Opportunities based on Imageability Maps

Graphic design could heighten the sensorial experience at the intersection of 4th and Broadway. Not only is this an important node, it is a the meeting place of the three different districts in DTSA. Also, it is the last standing original intersection of Santa Ana! The buildings at all four corners are the original ones. Right now, this node is not really celebrated.

Also, the intersection of 3rd and Birch could be made into a more important node because of the proximity of the Minter House, a historical landmark. Also it is next to the largest park space in DTSA, where public performances could take place.

As it stands, DTSA could benefit from more examination and development of its features (paths, nodes, landmarks, edges, and districts) but I just wanted to pick one or two of the most obvious ones to use as examples.

Lastly I noticed that the landmarks are mostly all old buildings, with the exception of the Reagan Courthouse and the Spurgeon Clocktower, for the tower. I think that there are opportunities to interject or juxtapose the old (the architecture) with the new (graphic design).

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Districts in DTSA

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Landmarks, Nodes, Edges, and Paths in DTSA

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Image of the City by Kevin Lynch

This book considers the visual quality of the American city by studying the mental image of that city which is held by its citizens. It will concentrate especially on one particular visual quality: the apparent clarity or “legibility” of the cityscape. By this we mean the ease with which its parts can be recognized and can be organized into a coherent pattern. Just as this printed page, if it is legible, can be visually grasped as a related pattern of recognizable symbols, so a legible city would be one whose districts or landmarks or pathways are easily identifiable and are easily grouped into an over-all pattern.

This leads to the definition of what might be called imageability: that quality in a physical object which gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer. It is that shape, color, or arrangement which facilitates the making of vividly identified, powerfully structured, highly useful mental images of the environment. It might also be called legibility, or perhaps visibility in a heightened sense, where objects are not only able to be seen, but are presented sharply and intensely to the senses.

A highly imageable (apparent, legible, or visible) city in this peculiar sense would seem well formed, distinct, remarkable; it would invite the eye and the ear to greater attention and participation. The sensuous grasp upon such surroundings would not merely be simplified, but also extended and deepened. Such a city would be one that could be apprehended over time as a pattern of high continuity with many distinctive parts clearly interconnected. The perceptive and familiar observer could absorb new sensuous impacts without disruption of his basic image, and each new impact would touch upon many previous elements. He would be well oriented, and he could move easily. He would be highly aware of his environment…

In a highly imageable city, all of these elements below would exist. The form must be somewhat noncommittal, plastic to the purposes and perceptions of the its citizens. They are unique in some way and, at the same time, intensify some surrounding characteristic. Ideally, if you observe the tensions between all of these elements, you’d see a total pattern.

paths: Usually these are the streets, sidewalks, trails. Paths consists of the “channels along which the observer customarily, occasionally, or potentially moves” (Lynch, p. 47). It is important to note that the paths an individual identifies may not correspond to a traditional street network, such as shortcuts. These are often the most predominant items in an individual’s mental map as this is main mechanism for how they experience their city.
edges: Usually these are perceived boundaries such as walls, buildings, and shorelines. They can be physical edges such as shorelines, walls, railroad cuts, or edges of development, or they can be less well-defined edges that the individual perceives as a barrier. Edges provide the boundaries that separate one region from another, the seams that join two regions together, or the barriers that close one region from another. They are linear elements, but are not the paths along with the individual experiences the built environment.
districts: Relatively large sections of the city distinguished by some identity or character; (i.e. Little Tokyo, Beverly Hills, The Castro.) Districts are “medium-to-large sections of the city” (Lynch, p. 47). They are typically two-dimensional features, often held together by some commonality. The individual often enters into or passes through these districts. According to Lynch, most people use the concept of districts to define the broader structure of their city.
nodes: These are strategic spots where there is an extra focus, or added concentration of city features. Nodes are points within the city into which the individual enters (and which is often the main focal point to which she or he is traveling to or from). There are often junctions – a crossing or converging of paths. They often have a physical element such as a popular hangout for the individual or a plaza area. In many cases, the nodes are the centers of the district that they are in.
landmarks: These are readily identifiable, external physical objects which serve as external reference points. Landmarks are also a point-reference (similar to nodes). However, unlike nodes, which the individual enters during his or her travels, landmarks remain external features to the individual. They are often physical structures such as a building, sign, or geographic features (e.g. mountain). The range of landmarks is extensive, but the commonality is that there are used by the individual to better understand and navigate the built environment.

Example of an Image Map per Kevin Lynch’s theory:
Empire State of Mind for an audio image map of New York City

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