Redesign doesn't cut People Tree Logo: Longtime residents are quite attached to the Columbia Association symbol. Two finalists retain the tree.

January 04, 1998|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

Fiddle with the letters. Even change the colors. But don't dare kill the "People Tree."

Two years after deciding to improve "communications" with the community, the Columbia Council is close to making a major decision on a new logo for the Columbia Association (CA), the homeowners' group.

Tomorrow, CA officials will unveil two designs at Columbia village board meetings to hear Columbians' design preferences.

Longtime Columbians -- much attached to the current logo's People Tree, a symbol created by developer James Rouse to represent a "garden for growing people" -- have nothing to fear. ++ Although the design consultant offered a variety of images without the tree, CA staff and council members chose as finalists two designs that retain the tree in modified form.

Residents will not be polled formally, and council members will make the final decision. They expect to choose a logo by summer and gradually phase in the design on signs and stationery.

To many council members and longtime residents, redesigning ZTC the logo is serious business. They see it as a major step to updating the 30-year-old organization's image.

Many of the association's brochures and signs display the People Tree and the name of the Columbia Association in some form. Because they are not all consistent, many council members and CA staff want to see things more uniform, more like a corporate identity.

"It's time for a change. It's time for us to get a new look," said Wanda Hurt, a Columbia Council member from Owen Brown. "Nobody calls it the Columbia Association anymore. Everybody calls it CA.

"We need a more consistent look," Hurt said. "It needs to be more modern, more up to date and more reflective of us."

The council's communications committee selected the two designs from about a dozen suggestions prepared for $1,500 by Mays and Associates, an Ellicott City designer. The two designs include a light green People Tree, without the tree trunk, in the background.

The designer's ideas ranged from a more avant-garde typeface to block letters to a sun with fat rays streaming over the letters "CA." One has a quarter-moon that is supposed to represent the "C" in Columbia Association and a pyramid shape that is to represent the "A" in Association.

In addition to containing the most valued symbol, the two final designs also photocopied well, an important factor when the logo must be reproduced on thousands of pamphlets.

The actual People Tree, a 14-foot sculpture with 66 gilded people as branches designed by Baltimore artist Pierre duFayet, stands along Lake Kittamaqundi.

"The People Tree is symbolically important because it shows a combination of all people unifying and being in a common enterprise," said Chuck Rees, a council member from Kings Contrivance. "It shows the importance of people in this community as opposed to buildings."

Talk of possibly leaving the People Tree out of the logo drew sharp opposition.

"The People Tree is tradition," said Cecilia Januszkiewicz, a council member from Long Reach. "Some [Columbia Council members] thought we could move away from [it]. Others thought we would create a horrible scandal if we even mentioned [changing] it."

This is the logo's first major redesign.

The original CA logo showed the stick figures that make up the People Tree in a circle, instead of growing from the tree trunk. In the mid-1980s, CA staff redesigned it for the current logo, which depicts the people growing from a tree trunk.

In the two proposed designs, the letters "CA" are in blue and green, respectively, to symbolize Columbia's 3,000 acres of open space. The green -- a new addition to the logo's color combination -- is for grass. The blue is for the sky.

Pub Date: 1/04/98

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