Signs With a (Re)Purpose

Tempe, AZ’s Airpark Graphics uses recycled material for a public market’s signage.
Phoenix Market exterior letters.jpg

Phoenix and surrounding Maricopa County, which also includes Tempe, Mesa, Glendale and other sizeable cities, have evolved into one of the trendier places in the U.S. to call home. Urban amenities, coupled with proximity to picturesque desertscapes and ample outdoor recreation, have contributed to the county’s estimated 27% population growth from 2000 to 2008.

With this major population upswing, retail and entertainment venues have sprouted. However, economically challenging conditions and arid Arizona’s inherently limited natural resources can make new construction a financially daunting task.

Owners of the Phoenix Public Market aimed to be “green” and economical in the development of its sign program. The non-profit entity donates its proceeds to Community Food Connections, which seeks to alleviate hunger for needy families through community-based initiatives and economic development.

Airpark Signs & Graphics (Tempe) developed the system. Reflective of the facility, a converted warehouse whose build-out entails the use of 80% recycled and repurposed materials, Airpark owner Gretchen Cherrill also resourcefully selected materials; Tom Martin, a freelance designer, developed the graphics.

Overhead, interior signs comprise recycled, repainted oil barrels; the interior Market Café letters were routed from reclaimed flooring from Airpark’s warehouse; and, the steel letters that identify the Market’s restrooms and provide countertop graphics entail waterjet-cut scrap. To create curb appeal, the shop fabricated reverse-pan channel letters and a wall-hung, recycled shingle, for which Airpark outsourced direct, flatbed printing.

The Market’s donor wall creatively paid homage to Arizona’s livestock-breeding legacy. Airpark painted cow bells to match the Market’s logo colors and applied vinyl lettering to recognize the Market’s benefactors.
Cherrill said, “This was a very fun project with a most delightful. We shared the project vision and worked together as a team.”

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