Mockup Mocked

"Uglier Than Ugly" Red RI Sign Gets Harsh Reviews

Peter McCarthy

What made the RI mockup installation circulated on the Island yesterday so awful was the knowledge that it's the best the combined talents of RIOC and Hudson could come up with. The fact that it's totally useless comes in second.

"Uglier Than Ugly" Red RI Sign Gets Harsh Reviews
Photo Courtesy of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society

When RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal announced at a Board Meeting that she'd worked successfully with Hudson, manager of both Southtown and Main Street Retail, to come up with signage at long last, the funny part was her saying it had taken "years."

Today, there is no "funny part" to this story.

A mock up trundled from place to place in defiance of RIOC's announced two hour viewing at the Tram Plaza failed to meet any standard hoped for by residents.

  • First and unforgettably, it isn't a sign in any but the broadest sense, just two vertical letters as likely to be seen as an ass-backwards variation as what's intended.
  • As a work of art, it's a sorry and awkward ripoff of Robert Indiana's popular LOVE sculpture on Sixth Avenue, adding nothing, just switching around the letters and, sadly, leaving out the softening blue. (Somebody paid for this?)
  • It's hopelessly devoid of useful purpose. It doesn't direct anyone anywhere. At best, it lets people arriving by Tram know what our initials are, unless of course they see it first while gliding in because then it looks like a weird Russian expression. The Visitor Center and people walking down from the subway get the same butt end view.
"Uglier Than Ugly" Red RI Sign Gets Harsh Reviews
Photo courtesy of Frank Farance

It's mind-boggling that Hudson, the company building out Hudson Yards as a shining example of New York City's future, could be involved in such a mess. Any high school student in art class could have designed this thing in less than an hour - and would've been failed for a lack of imagination or originality.

That RIOC, a State run agency that's long been been befuddled at the challenge of putting up the simplest of directional signs for around 20 years, it's not so surprising.

(You might want to check out historian Judy Berdy's simple and potentially effective alternative.)

Ugly meets unappealing at the Roosevelt Island Subway Station.
Ugly meets unappealing at the Roosevelt Island Subway Station.
Photo courtesy of Frank Farance

It may be that RIOC's trying too hard, making too much of a crying need for simple directions for visitors that's gone on for so long it developed a pool of tears.

Frank Farance offered a simple idea.

"I suggested to (Hudson Partner) David Kramer that instead of this ugly thing, and instead of the way-finding signs, we install the LinkNYC kiosks, which serve a City-wide purpose, and can have a local map that can be updated electronically at nominal cost, rather that a fixed physical sign. In fact, one could place a free call to any of the merchants at that point via the LinkNYC kiosk."

Not a single resident lucky enough to see the RI sign as it migrated without notice applauded or offered a compliment, leaving us with the conclusion that most hope it will never rear its ugly head or any related successor on Roosevelt Island again.

Possibly the RI sign's best feature: It's easy to remove.
Possibly the RI sign's best feature: It's easy to remove.
Photo courtesy of Frank Farance

 

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