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Redwood City - Downtown Entries

Client: City of Redwood City

Rather than merely install large direction signs, FTB was engaged by Redwood City to use urban design to help people find their way into downtown and strengthen its historic identity.

To mark downtown’s entrance at El Camino Real, FTB positioned a 3-sided clock tower with a cylindrical neon-lit “BROADWAY” sign.
 

Before

1991 USGS aerial photo of Broadway’s entry to downtown from El Camino Real with its bent Caltrain track crossing.

  • Downtown’s street grid was diagonally rotated away from its main access arterials El Camino Real and Veterans Boulevard, making it hard for many people to find their way in.
  • A 1960’s reconfigured railroad track crossing of Broadway also confused visitors coming in from El Camino Real by diverting them from Broadway onto low-activity Marshall Street.
  • At the track crossing, Broadway’s view corridor into downtown was completely hidden by a dense cluster of redwood trees planted in the former right-of-way.

Assignment

  • Through community workshops, propose urban design treatments to strengthen wayfinding and district identity together.
  • Extend the compelling imagery and context of downtown’s rich history in the design.

Outcomes

Broadway Gateway Arch and El Camino Real Clock Tower designed and constructed

  • Workshops endorsed FTB’s concepts for urban-scale landmark gateway sign features at key entries and intersections.
  • Two features were designed by FTB and constructed, a domed gateway Clock Tower at Broadway and El Camino Real, and a Gateway Arch using the City’s historic sign and slogan at the Broadway rail crossing.  Both featured neon-lit signs and historic architecture elements.
  • Discussions with stakeholders successfully achieved consensus to remove the cluster of redwood trees so the gateway arch would succeed.
  • The Clock Tower received a 1997 national award for a freestanding sign from Signs of the Times.
  • The Clock Tower and Gateway Arch have become symbolic icons for downtown, used by city and business promotion programs.

In collaboration with:

Korve Engineering, Sierra Engineering Group, Arrow Sign Company