I’ve been a volunteer on the City of Raleigh’s Appearance Commission for almost 5 years now. We review many of the new development projects within the city and make design recommendations to the planning commission and the city council. Most of what we do goes unnoticed to the average citizen but does have a positive affect on the quality of life of the citizenry. A recent initiative spearheaded by commission member Elizabeth Byrd made more of an immediate public impact. The Wake County parking garage at the corner of Davie and McDowell streets was slated to have apartments built around it after it was complete. Then the economy went south, the project stalled, and the city was left with a 7 story concrete block monolith on a busy corner. The developer stipulated in the contract that he would paint the building if the project were to stall. Then the appearance commission stepped in with a win-win proposition. Why not install temporary banners? They would be less expensive than painting the building, they could be removed and reused, and the city would get a better looking result until the project restarts. The banners were designed by a group of NCSU students who won a design school competition for the opportunity to have their design featured on the banners. Wake County, who owns the garage, also used the banner graphics as a library promotion. Overall it turned out to be a great short term solution and made for a more interesting public intersection.