Strengthening the rich culture of East Salinas.

The city of Salinas asked Volume, in collaboration with Urban Field and SWA, to develop an all-encompassing district identity plan for the Alisal neighborhood. The Alisal District Identity Master Plan offers ideas to strengthen the district’s identity, including streetscape improvements, open space improvements, façade improvements, graphic identity, and public art.

The Plan aims to strengthen the district’s cultural and physical identities to better match the area’s cultural richness, community spirit, and diversity.

Three primary questions emerged after immersing ourselves in the Alisal history and landscape and talking to residents. How could the Alisal identity evoke the culture and people of the Alisal—yesterday, today, and tomorrow? How might the Alisal identity invite participation from the community to help make it their own? How might the Alisal identity speak to creating a vibrant future for the Alisal? We then developed three design directions and allowed the community to comment on them in person and online.

Of the three ideas, the “Community Building Blocks” option resonated most with the public. One block is just a block. Multiple blocks, and you have structure, strength, and protection. Many blocks and you have a neighborhood, a community. The blocks symbolize different facets of the community. When they come together, they create unique and dynamic letters and patterns.

The design system allows for further variation and customization, including developing additional patterns and “filling” the logotype formats with photographic or illustrative content.

Once implemented into the Alisal urban fabric, the identity becomes more site-specific and useful. Public walls could host “community snapshots” that spotlight the residents. Alisal could regularly update locally sourced photography, art, and testimonials to feature more of the population. Banners are a powerful way to identify the neighborhood and could include event-related information or feature local artists. (Trash receptacles could do the same, even!) Placing monument signs at key neighborhood hubs and entry points could proudly identify the Alisal and highlight the region’s rich history.