Signs of Resilience?


This sign seems to have a really interesting and novel physical design.

Spotted on the island of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, the holes may be there to reduce wind loads in a hurricane-prone environment — thus ensuring stability and longevity.

Right…?

Sometimes real-world observations of absurdities can trigger relevant questions about design.


Funny Humour Law Public Space Signage USA

It’s not THAT the wind blows but what the wind blows.


Essentially, infrastructure

In hurricane-prone environments, infrastructure preparedness is essential. This encompasses constructing buildings with materials resilient to high winds and impacts, alongside designs that mitigate flood risks through elevated structures and robust drainage systems. Utility networks, particularly for power and communication, require reinforcement and often underground installation to ensure reliability during storms. Transportation infrastructure, including roads and bridges, must be engineered for endurance against extreme weather, ensuring clear and functional evacuation routes. Crucial too is the fortification of emergency response facilities like hospitals and shelters, equipped with independent power and water supplies.

palm trees in hurricane winds
Palm trees seem to have a particularly wind-resistant design.

In the past decade, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have repeatedly faced threats from major hurricanes. Most notably, the category-5 hurricanes Maria and Irma hit the islands within 10 days of each other in September of 2017.

This sign, spotted in St. Thomas, USVI, seems to have a really interesting physical design!

Some municipalities actually legally require the addition of ‘wind vents’ for large signage. In fact, a group of researchers set out to test the efficacy of such wind vents – and challenge the thinking behind those laws.

Their key takeaways:

  • The wind-loads varied depending on if it was a solid or ‘billowing’ type sign. (The original thinking, and subsequent legislation, seems to have mostly stemmed from science related to non-solid structures.)
  • A “swiss-cheese” type design might actually significantly reduce wind loads.

So, is this an example of innovative sign modifications?

No wait…
…they’re actually bullet holes.

Definitely bullet holes.

But, it really does beg the question: what type of resiliency should be built into physical information systems within any area?