Room 655, City County Building
The goal of the wayfinding effort is to make it easy for visitors and residents to navigate around downtown Knoxville, as well as, highlighting its attractions and offerings in an appealing and informative manner.
The project area encompasses all of downtown including World's Fair Park. The general boundaries are the Norfolk Southern Tracks to the north, the Tennessee River to the south, Hall of Fame Drive on the east and 11th Street on the west.
In 2009, the city selected MERJE Design, a Philadelphia-based firm with extensive experience in wayfinding and branding work, from among more than 20 companies that submitted proposals to lead the public process for input, create a design, establish sign locations and create a manual for maintenance of the signs and system. Throughout this contract the City and MERJE have worked with various stakeholder groups, including representatives from Market Square and the Old City, the downtown theaters, historic preservation groups, the Arts & Cultural Alliance and various city departments, along with others. Public participation has been an essential component of this project.
Recognizing the challenges of funding the implementation of this project over multiple budget cycles, in September of 2010, the city submitted a request to the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) to include the Downtown Wayfinding program in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and to make it eligible for Federal Highway (FHWA) funding. The city received approval for a grant in the amount of $1.2 million to implement the Downtown Wayfinding program as a Local Government Guidelines project, meaning 80% of the contract would be funded by FHWA through the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and 20% of the project would be funded locally by the city of Knoxville. Additionally, this funding source has requirements that include environmental permitting, right of way certification and construction review and administration.
In June of 2012, the city received a Notice to Proceed (NTP) from TDOT for the Downtown Wayfinding project. A call for letters of interest for qualified firms was issued by the city in the same month. The city held a kickoff meeting for this phase of the project on December 4, 2012 at the Emporium Center for the Arts. Click here to view the meeting presentation in PDF format.