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Object Timeline

2011

  • We acquired this object.

  • We photographed this object.

  • Work on this object began.

2013

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2016

  • You found it!

Sign, Scale Version of Highway Sign in ClearviewHwy® Typeface: Metropolis, 2011

This is a sign. It was co-designed by Donald Meeker and Christopher O'Hara and graphic design by James Montalbano and printed by 3M and firm: Meeker and Associates. It is dated 2011 and we acquired it in 2011. Its medium is acrylic pressure-sensitive film, 3m flexible uv ink print on 3m diamond grade series 4000 full cube prismatic reflective sheeting, mounted to brushed sheet aluminum substrate. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

The ClearviewHwy typeface is a beautiful example of the way design helps to improve people’s daily lives. A product of the design team of Donald Meeker and Chris O’Hara of Meeker Associates and type designer James Montalbano of Terminal Design, the Clearview project sought to improve the readability of highway signage for drivers—especially those over 65, who constitute roughly one-sixth of the driving public. Working with researchers from the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute and the Texas Transportation Institute, the team determined that the traditional federally mandated expressway signage, which incorporated a font called Highway Gothic (in use since 1949), did not meet the needs of older drivers. Many older drivers have reduced contrast sensitivity, especially with highly reflective road sign materials, and also react more slowly to changing road conditions. To meet this challenge, Meeker and Montalbano created a new typeface of graceful, elegant letterforms that increases visibility at night and from a distance. They adopted several strategies to increase visibility, the most important of which were: using mixed case letters rather than all upper case letters, opening up the interstices of problematic lower case letters (a, e, s), and increasing the height of lower case letters in relation to upper case letters. Most important, they were able to achieve this greater clarity without altering the size of existing signage or adding visual clutter to the roadways.
ClearviewHwy received provisional approval from the Federal Highway Administration in 2004, giving states the choice of adopting the typeface for their expressway signage. As of 2011, it is used in more than 20 states. In addition, the font family has been expanded to include alphabets for road signs in Cyrillic and Greek.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled More legible highway signage.

This object was depositor: Donald Meeker. It is credited Gift of Donald Meeker, Meeker & Associates, Inc., and James Montalbano, Terminal Design, Inc..

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Its dimensions are

(irregular): 50.4 x 58.2 x 0.3 cm (19 13/16 x 22 15/16 x 1/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Sign, Scale Version of Highway Sign in ClearviewHwy® Typeface: Metropolis, 2011; Co-Designer: Donald Meeker (American, b. 1947); USA; acrylic pressure-sensitive film, 3m flexible uv ink print on 3m diamond grade series 4000 full cube prismatic reflective sheeting, mounted to brushed sheet aluminum substrate; (irregular): 50.4 x 58.2 x 0.3 cm (19 13/16 x 22 15/16 x 1/8 in.); Gift of Donald Meeker, Meeker & Associates, Inc., and James Montalbano, Terminal Design, Inc.; 2011-24-4

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18788213/ |title=Sign, Scale Version of Highway Sign in ClearviewHwy® Typeface: Metropolis, 2011 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=10 December 2016 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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