Located outside the District of Columbia in Fairfax County, Virginia, the historic Lorton Prison, originally commissioned by Theodore Roosevelt in the early 20th century, is undergoing extensive redevelopment. We were brought onto the team as the signage consulting and design specialists. Early on we realized the site itself was only referred to as Laurel Hill, which is the general location of the property, but it didn’t have a formal name. The location’s history was our foundation and the adaptive reuse became our inspiration. Liberty was a natural reflection of how we saw the site developing—families, friendships and businesses would come to thrive here and we felt the name should reflect the optimism of the opportunities that awaited them.


This project required the development of the largest Comprehensive Sign Plan (CSP) developed for Fairfax County. A CSP, when approved, acts as a replacement of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance for Signs and must account for each type of sign and it’s location. The site, being over 80 acres required many signs. Our plan illustrates the sign design, clarifies materials, sizes, locations and quantities and overall square footage assessments.


The design of the signage and wayfinding design program drew inspiration from the historic roots of the property. The materials were intentionally selected to signal the revitalization while demonstrating it fit within the character of the architecture. The main entry signage is a perforated aluminum panel chemically treated to rust over time. This element is a visual expression of the site’s history and age. The panels are perforated so you can see through the sign. The lush green landscape compliments the orange of the rust in a new and dynamic way. The sign’s base is made of repurposed bricks found within the property.


Building mounted wayfinding signs in the apartment complex are simple by design, they are secondary to the historic architecture.