UGA Students and Faculty Lead Sumter County Community Design Charrette

July 28, 2017

The Sumter County Archway Partnership engaged the College of Environment and Design (CED) for assistance in developing a wayfinding system and creative concepts for a shared, community-wide graphic identity for heritage tourism sites in Sumter County. The project included the historic communities of Americus, Plains, Andersonville, Desoto, Leslie, and the recreational attraction, Lake Blackshear.

On March 18-20, 2016, two faculty and seventeen students from the CED Center for Community Design & Preservation (CCDP) led a community design charrette – a multiple-day workshop focused on solving a design issue. The students were from a variety of academic programs, lending specialized expertise in Environmental Planning & Design, Historic Preservation, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture.

The charrette involved over 75 local stakeholders from Sumter County and students assessed the county’s distinctive amenities that identify the region as a collective tourism destination. These stakeholders represented the county, municipalities, Chamber of Commerce, Payroll Development Authority, tourism partners, National Park Service, state agencies, colleges and universities, educators, business leaders, nonprofit organizations, and citizens.

Students created an analysis of primary road/highway corridors, a coordinated logo design for major destinations, wayfinding signage and directional standards for rural and urban areas, and suggestions for enhancing the visitor experiences.

Sumter County and its communities want to further capitalize on the growing number of visitors to the area as an economic development strategy. One of the fundamental tools for managing successful tourism destinations is a cohesive signage plan known as wayfinding.Wayfinding is the method in which people orient themselves and navigate from place to place. One of the faculty members asked the stakeholders, “Have you ever been lost and how did you feel?” For visitors, it is imperative that they understand the context of their surroundings, know where things are, and how to locate where they want to go next.

As one student put it, “Our goal was not only to help people find what they’re looking for, but to help people find what they don’t know is there.” A wayfinding plan guides visitors and residents alike into and throughout the county, including confidence markers, signs at points of entry, signs at points of decision, and signs at points of arrival.
The charrette produced a 68-page plan, which features a simple, yet informative, graphic system that reflects the community’s personality and history, which welcomes visitors and is a point of pride for residents.

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