Republic Square

Telling the story of one of Austin’s oldest public spaces

Republic Square is a city-block sized oasis in downtown Austin. Dating back to 1888, it is one of four historically significant squares that functioned as the city’s original public gathering places and has since played host to community events and markets, concerts and protests, frisbee games and family picnics. In 2015, a significant landscape and architectural renovation led by a partnership of three stakeholder entities presented an opportunity to showcase that history and mark its position as the heart of a dynamic and growing modern city.

Project Team: Pavon Design

Key Collaborators: Capital Architectural Signs

Signage and Wayfinding

← →

Function-driven forms

Design requirements for the park’s signage program, provided by the three stakeholder groups, were significant. They included a mandate that signage not block views into and through the relatively small space while also presenting a significant amount of bilingual content — wayfinding, rules and hours, donor recognition, all along with a historical narrative and photography. We defined forms to optimize content placement and legibility on tall, slender totems at each of the park’s entry points. We reduced the copious number of operational rules — duplicated in English and Spanish — into an economically sized symbol system. We oriented bilingual interpretive panels to angle towards the reader, then punctured the totems with portals at both adult pedestrian or child/wheelchair heights. These squares frame curated views into the park and to locations beyond its boundaries, a playful gesture that ties the forms to the name and function of the park. Traditional bronze sign and donor recognition forms at the entries create a timeless transition.

← →

Rounding out the family

The program includes companion forms at various scales. A bright rosa-colored totem recognizes the park’s signature sculpture. Turquoise versions mount on the limestone hardscape near a grove of 300+ year old live oak trees where piers and footings were not welcome. The color palette is decidedly bright, a reflection of the park’s role in the city’s Mexican American history. We also handled signage for plant recognition, location-specific regulatory messages, and the public restrooms and cafe.