Logo design for city project

Boston Common Mater Plan Logo design
Weston & SampsonBrandingBrandingLogo DesignIndustryIndustryOtherDurationDuration5 monthsProject teamProject teamCasey McGeeArt DirectorKim LêSenior DesignerHeidi ScammonSenior DesignerLily RoblesCreative Director, Partner0Number of "S"s in the Boston Common

Logo Design for Boston Common Master Plan

Our very own Boston Common is “America’s First Public Park.” It opened in 1634 and remains one of the most treasured green spaces in the world. The city is now working to revive, conserve and improve the park to ensure its future enjoyment for all.

We were excited to hear that Weston & Sampson will lead the master planning efforts for the Boston Common Master Plan. W&S is an award-winning landscape architecture firm known for their thoughtful restorations and sustainable design. We were also thrilled when Weston & Sampson asked Opus to design the logo for the Boston Common Master Plan.

A logo for a place that means alot to many

This was a logo design project for a place that means a lot to many people here in Boston and around the world. The client team included members of Weston and Sampson as well as important stakeholders Boston Parks and Recreation and Friends of the Public Garden. Their different perspectives, needs, and concerns around the logo made the project challenging but also more strategically informed which was very helpful.

Weston & Sampson created a Master Plan website to share information on the project and community engagement events.

Visit the website

Logo design research

Our logo design research included visits to the Common to take photos from different angles and from different sections of the park. One of the comments we heard was that it was extremely important to reference the city in this logo. Being in the heart of Boston was part of what makes the Common so special. Casey and I were very excited to find a location in the park where we could actually see the Hancock Tower peaking out behind the trees.

We also researched other aspects of the park that are quintessentially Boston as part of the logo design. We learned about the park’s benches through a seating study conducted in 2015. The benches do not have legs near the front of the seat. Instead, the back leg (or stanchion) supports the entire seat which allows service machines and maintenance to clean underneath the seat without harming the bench. The bench as a symbol of “quiet enjoyment” was one of the themes we explored in the design process.

Landscape vs Building

The Boston Common Master Plan project is all about protecting the historic and beautiful canopy of trees and grass for the public to enjoy. It has to be able to accommodate thousands of people during public gatherings as well as the individual reading a book on the lawn. There’s a complex coordination of people and technical systems that allows this to happen every day. But a logo with trees and grass could be any park in any place in the world. We needed to find a way to signal Boston more specifically.

We created a few designs with the Parkman Bandstand. While it provides immediate context and recognition for the city, we still needed to be sure that the landscape could be the hero, vs the building.

In order to emphasize landscape over the built, you’ll see that the Parkman Bandstand size and placement is very strategic.

  1. It’s not in the center of the logo
  2. It’s small relative to the trees
  3. One of the trees overlaps the top of the building which allows the Bandstand to recede and sit as one of many elements in the landscape.
  4. The stairs create an approachable detail that puts the park in human scale vs an isolated monument.

A park for the people

As a public park, we needed to include the idea of people. But drawing human forms in logo design invites many other questions like: How many people? What are they doing? Do we need to show diverse ages, gender and race? How can we avoid a clip-art cliché?

We wanted to show that this park is meant for people to enjoy nature, without creating a busy, complex graphic. The bandstand gave us a way to represent community interaction, but the pathways invite and guide people through the park.

It was a special privilege to be Boston graphic designers working on this project and we’re grateful to Weston & Sampson, Friends of the Public Gardens, and Boston Parks and Recreation for their trust and collaboration.