Columbia Association reveals new logo, without 'People Tree'

Columbia Association has revealed its new logo, replacing the familiar "People Tree" tree symbol with another tree, this one a logo that CA actually owns.

The new logo, introduced Thursday, includes a green-and-blue tree that is intended to be a "logical progression and evolution of the meaning and symbolism" of the People Tree sculpture in downtown Columbia, according to a CA statement.

"Since it was first introduced, the People Tree has represented the ideal of people working, playing and prospering together," the statement said. "This is where the new logo gets its 'roots.'

"The new 'tree' is comprised of people with open arms in each leaf at the top of the tree. The arms and the people connect to one another."

The sculpture, standing 14-feet tall and overlooking Lake Kittamaqundi, has "branches" made of 66 people.

CA owns the sculpture, which will remain. But the People Tree image itself belongs to the Howard Hughes Corp., which split from General Growth Properties, the company that acquired The Rouse Co. in 2004. Howard Hughes has allowed CA to use the logo.

"We inquired about purchasing the rights to the image and explored some options there, but that wasn't the route to take," the CA statement said, noting that other businesses around Columbia incorporate the People Tree image. "While many people associate Columbia, and thus the Columbia Association, with the People Tree ... it's not just our image to which we can lay claim."

Aside from rights issue, CA officials said the new logo gives them more flexibility, a tighter image for social media sites and other uses.

The tree will sometimes appear alongside "CA" or the words "Columbia Association." Sometimes the symbol might just be a "treetop," which is intended to represent "a full circle ... signifying wholeness, completeness, unending strength, motion and progress."

The blue and green symbolize the sky and the earth, the statement said.

The logo change is on CA's website and will continue around Columbia.

"We want to be conscious of budgets and take advantage of circumstances that create opportunities to replace the logo," the statement said. "While much of the change will happen quickly, other logo changes will happen over time. There's much to consider, including trucks and maintenance equipment, building signage, individual membership cards, open space signs, uniforms and so on."

The cost of replacing the logo everywhere could range from $70,000 to $200,000, CA spokeswoman Valerie Barnard told The Baltimore Sun in January.

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