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Design Process

The Street Exhibit Project was designed at a design "charrette" held in 1991. The charrette included 21 design professionals from the Ann Arbor area, including architects, planners, landscape architects and graphic designers, who volunteered for the all-day design exercise. The goal was to develop a proposal for the street exhibits by the end of the day.

The volunteer professionals offered a variety of ideas--ideas which included street banners, bronze castings, wall markers, kiosks, and transparent displays. By the end of the day, one idea had taken root with the group--the idea of a "transparent blade" set up on the sidewalk in a way that viewers could look through the transparent glass exhibit and see images of historic structures superimposed over the streetscape.

The project design had some initial constraints, which were largely satisfied in the final project. The initial constraints were as follows:

  • Because the exhibit is aimed more at residents and frequent users than at tourists, it should be designed to be engaging and attractive even with repeated exposure, and it should not add to the visual clutter of the streetscape; it should "wear well" on the viewer.
  • It should be clear, simple and interesting, designed to appeal to everyone at every age.
  • It should place historical images or stories at their original locations, physically juxtaposing past and present.
  • Because this is a "permanent" exhibit, it must be safe, vandal-proof and maintenance free.
  • It must be accessible to pedestrians on the sidewalk, without having to enter a private building or other property.
  • The basic design must be adaptable to other exhibits, locations, and historical topics around the Downtown.


Norman Tyler, Chair :: Robert Beckley :: Pam Brubaker :: Jane Delancey :: Robert Doyle :: Richard Ford :: Don Hammond :: Frederick Herrmann :: Douglas Hesseltine :: Chet Hill :: Mary Jukuri :: Carl Luckenbach :: Brian Mack :: Peter Osler :: Lincoln Poley :: Peter Pollack :: Michael Rein :: James Renne :: George Sass :: Ilene Tyler :: Dan Whisler :: Jack Williamson :: Donald Wortman