Signage Rules Should Regulate, Not Restrict, Signage on Boston’s Towers
December 1, 2015
December 1, 2015
This week, the Boston Redevelopment Authority announced it would create a plan establishing written rules on signage for the city’s office towers. This plan, according to the agency, would serve as a starting point for negotiation rather than rigid regulations.
As noted in Jon Chesto’s story, it comes at a time where signage is more popular and prominent than ever. Given the state of Boston’s commercial real estate boom, this initiative is overdue. That’s not to say signage should be restricted, but there should be a standard in place.
I am wholly in favor of signage on office buildings for companies with significant footprints in Boston, be they regional or corporate headquarters. Boston’s status as a world-class city featured prominently during the Olympic flirtation. As I’ve written before, I don’t believe that status is in question. It would not be detrimental for more awareness to be raised as to the high quality of companies that choose to call Boston home.
Just across the river, Kendall Square is home to some of the world’s most innovative companies. Even someone who had no prior awareness of this would quickly learn that to be the case upon visiting where signs for Microsoft, Google and Pfizer (to name a few) are prominently featured. Boston should, likewise, take pride in showcasing the tenants it has landed.
When I first moved to the city, the Prudential Tower served as the North Star, guiding me back home wherever I ended up. I’m extremely sympathetic to the need for geographic awareness. Increasing the signage on buildings would provide similar landmarks for visitors and the not-insignificant student population of Boston. While architects and real estate experts can easily distinguish one building’s features from the next, I’d ascertain they all register as “buildings” to most people. Signage would help on that front.
My warmth toward signage is not without a degree of restraint. As I mentioned earlier, this should be reserved for companies making a significant investment in Boston. Think of it as an add-on of sorts. Additionally, the size and design features should require approval from the BRA. This will likely be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on location, building size and other factors, but generally speaking, the signage should certainly be tasteful and not overwhelming. After all, it’s Boston–not Las Vegas.