Material Culture

The City as Design Canvas

The client was Docomomo Puerto Rico (2008), the local chapter of a nonprofit, mid-modern international organization.
talking bubble azulThey wanted to publish an architectural guided tour.
We assisted with conceptualization, apart from branding and visual communication strategies.


talking bubble amarilloWe were approached for the design of a guided tour publication. After a series of conversations with the clients, they accepted the idea to use the Tour Route Number 1 (main route through the Ponce de León Avenue), since most of the four architecturally historical routes they were interested in publishing about work along this main city artery. The four angles from which to use the guide would be: institutional, residential, commercial and educational. We wanted to appeal to the use of public transportation and the walking of the city. For the design, we once again used a pocket of information approach (allowing the design to be compact and easy to grasp visually,) and folding maps that attach to the booklet. The folding technique has been used by us for other clients’ projects as well due to its playful and practical characteristics. This cartography was a very interesting challenge because we had to use architectural icons in a user-friendly way that also respected the specialized nature of the project. The guide was pocket-sized.

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About the author

Dr. Maria de Mater O'Neill

Twenty-five years of experience in art and design education. Award winning painter and designer. Author of Practice-Based Doctoral research “Developing Methods of Resilience for Design Practice”, a design model to improve real time resilience thinking for designers under stressors. She is a Fulbright Specialist Roster candidate.