Welcome to the website of Martin Treu

With the release of Martin’s new book, Signs, Streets, and Storefronts, we’re just beginning to gather reviews from a variety of sources, some of which are below. But more are certainly on the way — so please check back soon!

S. D. Scott-Fundling, Marymount University — in July 2013 issue of “CHOICE” a publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries

“This important volume, [Signs, Streets, and Storefronts], by architect and environmental graphic designer Treu addresses American street front architecture and urban planning. Black-and-white photographs illustrate the history and development of commercial architecture in old city centers with important images of lost buildings that were demolished for improved transportation corridors. The author provides an insightful assessment of the American townscape and the unique individual character of commercial architecture. He thoroughly reviews sign types, character, and craftsmanship, and their significant impact on architectural design and city planning. Numerous color photographs highlight main street facades, ornamentation, and evolutionary changes in building designs to unify commercial design with the advancement of advertisements. Treu identifies the loss of character and meaning experienced today with homogenized strip shopping centers, and makes a compelling case for the role signs have in defining places as memorable and distinctive, with creative graphics and place-associated communication. Treu argues for recognition of building signs as part of the collective memory of common places of the past, and as an important reminder that one’s architectural heritage is found in everyday experiences with the attached meaning of particular places and context.”


Mark A. Vernarelli, American Road Magazine

“As a child, Martin Treu probably never irked his parents by saying, ‘Are we there yet?’ because he was busy looking at the scenery. Brilliant neon signs and glossy storefront display windows made indelible marks on young Treu, so much so that for years, the adult Treu devoted his life to a study of America’s main streets and the icons and architecture that define them.

The result of that study is Signs, Streets, and Storefronts: A History of Architecture and Graphics Along America’s Commercial Corridors, an exhaustive review of the cultural, zoning, and demographic changes that brought America’s business districts into being. Drawing upon hundreds of sources and case studies, the author meticulously lays out the pre-auto, auto boom, and modern era habits that carved their marks on America’s business strips. From Sarasota, Florida to Los Angeles and New York, Treu documents one main street after another, with photos often showing the same buildings as they looked during different eras. The book is a must-read for any fan of architecture—and for city planners. It is a thorough dissection of the trends and clashes that continue to shape and regulate our nation’s commercial corridors.”


Alan Hess, author of Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture

“Knee-jerk reactions against signs have ruled for too long. Martin Treu’s excellent book offers the overdue antidote: solid historical facts and insightful urban analysis that reveal the important role of signs in shaping our buildings for the better. You’ll look at cities differently after reading this book.”


Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History, University of Virginia

“A compelling history and study of what makes American architecture unique: entice, appeal and sell! Treu’s book contains great research about commercial attraction and buildings both individually and the urban and suburban impact from the 1700s to today. A must read.”