Do We Need a Welcome Sign?

To the Editor:

As Thelonious Monk said, “Simple ain’t easy.”

Do we really need a symbol for our little Island in what we mistakenly refer to as the East River but is actually a salt water tidal estuary?

Yes. Of course we need a symbol. We are naked without one. Residents will love it, merchants will love it. Visitors will love it. It is sign of maturity and a shorthand statement of our self-esteem. Hudson/Related has engaged a design group to create a symbol which is in its second round of trials. It is a bold, simple expression of our initials: RI.

A rendering of the letterforms near the Red Bus turnaround.

At ten feet tall, the letters become a piece of language sculpture that even has viewers from time to time speaking “Roosevelt Island” in response to seeing it.

As for anyone becoming confused as to whether they are on Rhode Island, my sense is they will no longer suffer that problem. And the similarities to other artists’ work? Always steal from the best…modern artists have been doing that since the beginning of time.

The simplicity and clarity of the RI letterforms lend themselves to a broad array of design possibilities from the identification on all manner of administrative, marketing, and sales materials to exciting designs for souvenirs from the kiosk: from mugs to lamps, 3D objects, clothing, and caps.

Placing the sculpture by the Tram is correct. There are adequate negative spaces around the letterforms so that people will not be blocked from any meaningful vistas.

Also, I wonder if consideration has been given to siting the symbol on the circular divider by the Tram that used to be a turn for the Red Bus. It would be less competitive with the five other Island landmarks – Tram, bridge, visitor kiosk, ferry, and Sportspark – and would give the RI more importance.

However, it seems to me the RI letterforms do not need any “shoes” on their feet. Without the “shoes,” the letterforms could then be embedded directly into the concrete or grass, wherever they are finally installed. This would convey a sense of connection, of having “grown into place with the Island.”

As a graphic and industrial designer, I must admit that I am envious of the design group that is responsible for this very exciting project. I wish them great luck.

David Enock


To the Editor:

Nix on the giant RI letters. Tsk, tsk.

How can RIOC spend even a dime on this extravagance when not a single sign has been erected at the Tram (in 30 years or more) to tell tourists that they can get a bite to eat by walking >>> this way, or visit Four Freedoms Park by walking <<< that way (etc., for all the parks, landmarks, Cornell Tech campus)?

It’s on the way, you say? Will it be on the way in the future for as long as it has been “on the way” in the past?

Dick Lutz

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