Athens Takes First Steps

By Posted in - Blog & Competitiveness & Work on February 3rd, 2015 0 Comments

(Athens Council Photo credit: Patrick Connolly of The Post, Athens, Ohio)

Realizing the Essence of Athens

Swift implementation continues after the October adoption of  The Essence of Athens: A Strategic Design Plan for Economic Enhancement and Community Competitiveness. The Athens City Council currently has pending legislation for immediately integrating the plan’s recommendations into public infrastructure that the City of Athens controls; for instance, transforming traffic signal boxes into “only in Athens” boxes with commissioned local art can happen right now. “Artists can put forward their designs…for the boxes themselves,” remarked Councilman Steve Patterson in a February 2nd Athens Council meeting. (Quote from The Post, Athens, Ohio)

New sidewalks that will be installed in the coming year will include design elements and ideas from the plan, including integrating the community’s beloved “Athens Block” brick into the concrete.


These are only the beginning steps in what will become a comprehensive public art and Athens-centric (commercial and residential) development implementation effort over the coming years.

Read more here about the city’s implementation of the plan from The Post, Athens Ohio.

More About What We Do at Designing Local

We help cities, towns, and neighborhoods become dramatically different simply by showing them how to embrace their local culture. We provide basic economic development for communities because we help them begin to build visually interesting places that are loyal to their heritage. Implementing a built environment that celebrates geographically-unique traits, histories, and aspirations enhances a community’s quality of life. It also attracts new residents and businesses that seek special addresses*.

At a glance, what we do could be mistaken for “branding,” but conventional place branding often involves commodity-based, top-down approaches and outcomes that include logos, slogans, and claims that often can’t be backed up. Instead we help communities create special infrastructure and real estate development that is relevant, loved, and speaks for itself. We give our clients a tailored design framework that showcases their unique stories by revealing who they are, and then we give them the tools so they can amplify their culture onto (and into) public and private spaces, everywhere possible.

We strive to make town planning resemble creating art.

Our bottom line goal: to inspire architects, urban designers, planners, landscape architects, civil engineers, business owners, and citizens – all of whom design and build your community – to work together to make your city, town, or neighborhood a meaningful place worth caring about.

While some communities (such as Athens, Ohio) are inspired by embracing their colorful qualities and open-mindedness…


Many other communities may define themselves as traditional, historic, and orderly. Others still may celebrate being outdoorsy, natural, and earthy…


Some places represent a mix of infinite expressions; others may focus on one or two characteristics. In the end, though, there are as many “essences” of places as there are places themselves!

The Designing Local team believes that every community has the potential to stand out as memorable and special. Every place wants to attract tourists, businesses, and new residents. Expressive local design is an effective, fun, and often overlooked way to do this.

Trailblazer Athens, Ohio, just beginning its journey, is leading the way.

For more info about our methods, drop us a line to us:

Browse the entire Essence of Athens Plan here.

*Many scholarly articles and books on the subject of the “Economics of Uniqueness” (Including a book of the same name published by the World Bank in 2011) have long established the link between economic prosperity and unique local design.

Comments are closed.