By September 6, 2017 0 Comments Read More →

BigView – Design for Living

The BigView – Design for Living
By Chris Murphy

What do you see when you look around? What places inspire you? Are there murals you love, open spaces that draw you in, a logo on your favorite T-shirt or do you simply enjoy looking at all of the interesting places when you are riding your bike around? Maybe you have even locked your bike to one of the art bike racks? Some of greatest buildings have been tragically torn down, some were abandoned, and some just got the wrecking ball in the name of “progress”. With the creation of Mo.De, our design community is linking up to do even better things and Modesto Architecture week is coming Sept 18 -24 so we will be much smarter about the future. But wait, there’s more! There is so much around us right now that you can enjoy. Let’s look around

Can you find it?
How much detail do you see? Do you notice the small things?
Well in the words of John Lennon in Glass Onion, “Here’s another clue for you all”.
The ViewCrew has found a really cool design element. Can you find it?
Here’s the best part, the 1st person to 1) Find it 2)Take a Picture 3) Post it to Instagram #modestoview will win dinner for 2 at Ralston’s Goat. So look sharp and get searching.

Font Story
You know we love Modesto, but did you know that there is a Modesto Font? This is so cool and our designed Pete Grimaldi worked his magic on this issue and has incorporated the Modesto type in this issue. This font was designed by Jim Parkinson back in 2000 and was featured in the Modesto Design exhibit at the McHenry Museum. He took his initial inspiration from the lettering on Modesto’s train station. According to Parkinson, “I took a snapshot of the lettering on the Modesto train station several decades ago and modeled the [Modesto] typeface on that lettering.”

Modesto Train Station
This is exciting, our downtown train station will soon be the hub of transportation that it used to be decades ago when the rails were king. With ACE train coming to Modesto, you will see this amazing building come back to life. But it is there, now, at the head of a new J Street gateway, reminding us that our past is also key our future. Think about the cool new possibilities.

Cool Graphics
Like our very on ModestoView M that I designed back in the late 90s, there are some really cool graphics in our community, many created by individuals and our local design firms. One of our favorites has been the original X Fest logo by Bruce Freeby and the Cruisers logo created by Marcia Herrmann Designs. What is one of your favorites local graphics designs? Post it to instagram and #modestoview and we will share it.

Bike Racks
Modesto is a bike town and we are pedaling fast to make it even better. Modesto has been recognized for some of the traffic calming and the new bike lanes that are putting bikes in a safe place and truly sharing our roads. We know some of you don’t like it, but it really will make our city easier to navigate and safer. I live near downtown now and I ride my bike downtown when ever possible. It is quick, easy and I can feel good about the amazing local food I enjoy. Win / Win! The Cork Screw bike rack at 15th and J is especially fun. Art & Function.

Murals inspire
It is amazing how a really cool mural makes you feel. It makes a statement, it says something about our community, makes you think and makes you smile and most of them celebrate a part of our history or some of our community assets that bring people together. Downtown Modesto features a Classic Community Mural tour that celebrates our American Graffiti and Classic Car heritage featuring 12 murals. Murals in Motown has created two large scale pieces celebrating Royal Robbins and our valley agriculture. These murals transform the streetscape, and engage our own people and visitors alike. Take some time to go check these out and show them to your visitors so they can learn about why you like living here.

Art Alleys are Coming
Part of urban design is how you make use of unusable space like alleys. We have a lot of alleys. Murals and art come together to take back some of the parts of our town that normally get hidden. Downtown Modesto has a network of alleys, that instead of being the place for utilities and dumpsters, could actually be a walkable, safe, well-lit and inspiring place. The first Art Alley project we are working on is the alley on J Street that connects to I between 10th and 11th. This could one day be a dynamic space connecting J St to the parking garage, the Gallo Center and 10th St. What a view! Email me if you are interested on working on this project.<>

Cool buildings
Everyone has their favorite. The bank at the corner of I and 10th is a hall of fame. It has been the subject of many of our covers and events. We are hoping that there is new life coming to this soon. But there are cool old buildings on 10th like Chris Reed designs, many mid century modern homes, the Old Post Office, the First Title building or even cool places like the big grain elevator by 9th St that will soon be home to St. Stan’s Brewery. We have lost many of our old classic buildings, so lets save the rest we have. What’s your favorite? Learn more at

Play Spaces
Modesto mom Rachel Loredo is creating The Awesome Spot, Modesto’s first inclusive playground in Beyer Community Park. Loredo’s son Tommy was born with arthrogryposis (the same congenital joint condition of Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski) and requires a walker or wheelchair. Inspired by a visit to an inclusive playground in Palo Alto where Tommy could play independently, Loredo teamed up with Modesto landscape architect Chad Kennedy to design a similar playspace here. You can help bring this to life at

Art as Play
Modesto’s 25-foot play sculpture has been attributed to Modernist Robert Winston, following an in-depth study by Modesto Art Museum’s founder and architecture curator, Bob Barzan. It’s one of our city’s great mid-century design treasures but sits neglected amidst a growing tent village of citizens experiencing homelessness, but a new effort by PG&E to create a new dog-park where an old locomotive, may give this structure new life. If not, we need to find a new home for this in our community.

Ecology Design in the 70s
Cliff Humphrey, from a modest office in the Roseburg and Tully Shopping center, Humphrey designed curbside pickup to make recycling more efficient and convenient for residents. He hoped that the simple task of sorting garbage would make people more environmentally conscious. This was not a small undertaking in “conservative” Modesto at a time when the concept of recycling was still novel. He met early resistance and skepticism from city officials and the public. “If we can make recycling work here, it will work anywhere,”

What and Who is Mo.De?
The gathering, created by Lee Davis and supported by Liza Butler of EJ Gallo Winery was an opportunity to evolve a collective vision for MO.DE going forward. The MO.DE brand, designed by the talented local designer Eric Le, was unveiled, as was a mission statement: “The Modesto Design Collective (MO.DE) is a community of designers, innovators, makers, and creative visionaries. They are committed to making Modesto a vibrant design capital that values, celebrates and supports design and the broader creative community. There will be an upcoming event on September 19.

We can do this Modesto, be the creative city we can be. These are the things that will attract the new generations and keep the current ones here. Remember, creative cities win and are poised for the future.

Excerpts from Lee Davis’ monthly Design View articles have been included in this piece. See all of his columns and insight at



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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.