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A manual for students, teachers, professionals, and clients

This book is dedicated the extraordinary home and inspiration

to Two Twelve Associates, for almost three decades.

design firm that has been my

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Information Design for Public Places


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Foreword by Christopher Pullman

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Princeton Architectural Press New York


Information Design for Public Places

Foreword by Christopher Pullman

Princeton Architectural New York



Exiting the subway in the middle of a city or stepping off the elevator disorientating: onto a strange floor is momentarily you scan the space to figure out where is similar to searching for an article and how to reach a

A specialized wayfinding internet's essential.

subset of environmental matured concurrently

graphic design, with too little

with the rise of the signals have become while most often Donald Norman's designed

soup of too much information

you are and find clues that will lead you where you want to go. This scanning in a magazine or perusing the home page of a website to figure out how it is organized specific section. All these reflex actions are about wayfinding. This book de mystifies providing information intuitively the fascinating process of and David the necessary clues and environmental that help people orient themselves find their way.:! first met the author, student

context, where clear orientation The principles Psychologist of way finding,

applied to spaces, also pertain to other situations. and industrial designer book The Design public attention products: light switches doors oriented

of Everyday

Things (1988) raised to figure out, they may seem

(and ire) about inadequately that are impossible

appliances without

placed where you least expect them, or regard for the direction of products humane, and intuitive and spaces

Gibson, when he was a graduate graphic design program. he made wayfinding puzzle of orientation, implementing project. process of initiating The Wayfinding Wayfinding, a specialty

in the Yale

swing. That the operation should be self-evident, obvious,

As David's career developed, of his design practice. mental and a the underlying

he argues, but it is often not the case. of a new era of consumer advocacy and product testing. Although the concept has part of the design process for ages, the design has come into common use

He learned to think through

Norman's common sense about design proved to be a bellwether sophisticated

codify the steps to planning and successfully concluding

a design solution,

and navigate the public

been an intrinsic relatively

For anyone curious about this line of work, Handbook is a good place to start. of course, has been around ever since hunt, but it century.

term user interface

recently. The idea that the designer should

be the advocate of the end user took hold in the 1990s in both product design and website development. lndustrlal-deslgn employing firms and internet studios began and psychologists, anthropologists,

the first bunch of cave men got lost trying to find their way home from a wooly mammoth only became a profession in the twentieth

ethnographers-all human behavior-to rapid prototyping


trained to understand predict how

help designers (make something practice.

a given

maps to navigate from lake to lake, on signal trees to mark a portage, awareness. and on blazes to follow the trail. I took pre-architecture to how buildings and in many cases, In graphic with how In way· clues My own career has always reflected this spatial As an undergraduate can-or courses and became sensitive other structures do not-provide

form would be under-stood

and used. User testing and quickly, give it to the

target users, watch to see what they make of it, revise, and repeat) became typical It is easy to assume that because the placement or content of a sign is obvious to the designer-or button on a computer be here-that I have watched page everybody the screen looks like that or should fumble through a home


signals that aid orientation. I became fascinated communication support provldea

design graduate school, in a book or multipage other underlying for different finding, these structures

subtle grids and the content. location

the end user will find it obvious too. But as test subjects on the design team thinks is airtight, It is all about users underin wayfinding developed parts of



kinds of information and navigation

and hierarchical (this is the title,

unable to locate the target content or misunderstanding the behavior of a button. standing I think my early interest was always littered where they are and what they need to do.

that improve both comprehension byline, or footnote) number;

(here is the page in the office design, and later with a

now you're in a new section). coordinator and designer George Nelson in New York, I these strategies in exhibition project: signage for the huge a warren of me with and decision

During a stint as graphics of architect deployed

because my father was in the map business. The house with maps showing various the world. I loved to look at them because they encapsulated so much information distant place. (Ironically, anywhere gadgets.) they couldn't that made it possible to and the look of some go imagine the feeling, the terrain,

in my first real wayfinding limited understanding uncoordinated easy-to-maintain

Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. Gui,ding patients of English through multifloor spaces confronted

when I got married I discovered get to with verbal directions-a in-dash GPS voice navigation

my in-laws never used maps. They basically wouldn't weird precursor to today's

the tricky problem of providing point in this maze.

legible, economical,

signs at every conceivable

Later, as a canoe guide in Canada, I relied on


Then in 1973 when I joined WGBH, the public broadcasting station in Boston, I began to understand applied to time-based how ideas of orientation media. Video

basic organization consulted code requirements of experience

and the logic of its circulation. who understood


with specialists

the technical and

of public signing and had the depth

has its own set of conventions

that orient the viewer to media

to propose systems both economical of the graphics in a facility

physical space (point of view), visual and aural focus (what we see and hear), and time. Interactive have yet other special conventions, principles immersed are the same. in architectural wayfinding. That came about as vice president the treasurer of the project), for managing and all the but many of the

easy to update, and we worked with our own staff to define the character our decisions. The process resulted that works very well for us, but had I been able to read this book first, I would have been better prepared, both as a designer and as a client. Because you are reading it right now, you are already a step ahead! And soon you will have a more holistic view about how to help people understand enjoy the spaces they visit. and and test the logic of

Only recently, however, have I become really because WGBH had to move from its home of forty years and build a whole new headquarters; team. This also included (responsible relationships subspecialties). of the new facility feel, and functional wayfinding the essential supplying and the construction the president, of design.J was asked to be on the management for the fiscal management with the general contractor (its formal appearance,

manager (responsible

Christopher Christopher medalist, Pullman is a design consultant he is the former vice president critic at Yale University Visual Communications


My role was to help define the character cultural serve and needs), select the architect,

and senior

School of Art. An AlGA fellow and of Branding and at WGBH Boston, where he

as design client, and oversee the informational graphic program for the project. effort made me fully appreciate nature of the processes outlined This five-year

managed design from 1973 to 2008. in its

this book. The architects the building

were, of course, critical in

with a form that expresses



The Wayfinding discipline


is intended

to be a user's design

here are often complex and influential affect large populations. In undertaking

because they

guide to the art and science of the specialized that has occupied

me for the better part of the of ofTwo

this book, I wanted to create a handy that will serve as a textbook and students; a design resource interested and mature designers managers,

past thirty years. This book is a record of what I have learned about wayfinding many rich experiences Twelve Associates the country. working design, the summation I have had as a principal these projects, and colleagues

guide to the discipline for design professors for recent graduates in wayfinding; for practicing

for all kinds of clients across I've been who work

and a source of ideas and inspiration professionals, and owners. is, where it came unfold. This color; and a project. of our process, from considerations

In undertaking

inspired and educated alongside me.

nor only by the people I work for

The book explains what wayfinding from, who needs it, and how projects primer delivers a concise overview planning and strategy three-dlrnenslonal that help designers through

but also by fellow designers

This creative design work has been a joyful endeavor and reflects my generally optimistic view of the world. As a baby boomer who came of age in Canada in the 1960s and '70s, I have always believed that we should work together The wayfinding to make a better world, that the common than individual experience. enterprise, done is people, designer's work lies at the intersection good is more important

typography, complete

design to practical successfully featured

The photographs/images include documentation as contributions

in this book industry

ofTwo Twelve's work as well designers,

from respected

leaders, and signage enthusiasts. I hope you'll learn something and that the handbook handled in the process. and be inspiredand wellwill become battered

of people and places. It is a collective interesting, intellectually and accessible

with and for people, seeking to make extraordinary, places. This discipline meet interesting engaging because it allows one to learn institutions, public spaces. In comseem rather projects described

about fascinating

and use design to transform

David Gibson

parison, other types of design problems narrowly focused. The wayfinding




Order is no guarantee of understanding. Sometimes just the opposite is true ... Cities don't come in chapters with restaurants in one section and museums in another; their order is organic, sometimes confusing, never alphabetic. To really experience a city fully, you have to acknowledge confusion.

The heart of a civilization throbs wherever people come together to work, play, shop, study, perform, worship, or just interact. Crowded into bustling spaces, they share the richness and diversity of human experience as well as its challenges. In these spaces people may "find their way" in the existential sense, but they also become overwhelmed

disoriented if they physically lose their way. Wayfinding

design provides quidance and the means to help people feel at ease in their surroundings.



The emergence of the wayfinding discipline



People throughout

history have gravitated

to town

and how to exit. Great wayfinding explicit signs and information and landmarks and immediacy. that together This handbook

systems employ symbols with accuracy

centers, market squares, and vibrant Rockefeller Center, Galleria Vittorio

public spaces Emanuele in Houses of

as well as implicit communicate

filled with global wares, such as New York City's Milan, or the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. sought sanctuary, commercial residential neighborhood

explores the purpose

and scope of way finding systems for spaces where people convene and how they are planned, designed, and produced.

worship once set apart from the fray, where people now often sit side by side with busy schools, restaurants, spaces. Any lively its evolution was and cultural whether centers, libraries, complexes, is appealing,


Many wayfinding political designers are baby boomers whose consciousness was inand subsequent by a sense of and environmental

organic, like Greenwich Village in New York, the hutongs of Beijing, the medinas in Fez, or planned in the spirit of new urbanism, together like Disney's Celebration community is woven in Florida. The real fabric of human existence in settings routine. As the iconoclastic cities correspond their inhabitants.

formed by the futile Vietnam conflict social ferment imentation, foundation of the 1970s. Motivated public communal

mission and zeal for creative expermoved the wayfinding century, building upon the established by earlier design pos-

where people go about their daily writer Bernard Rudofsky

they gradually of experience

field into the twenty-first

points out in Streets for People (1969): "Altogether, closely to the ideas and ideals of They are the tangible expression of a

pioneers over the course of the previous century. War-World talented providing including War II, that is-had an inadvertently itive impact on their careers as well, either by forcing

nation's spirit, or lack of spirit."? Over time cities, spaces, complexes, fill up with information, times charming books on vernacular, de;igne'r whether is responsible and buildings Somein popular markers, and symbols. "undesigned" for enhancing

Europeans, such as Alvin Lustig, to emigrate awaited or by art and design training to many a veteran,

to North America where opportunity

results emerge, as depicted

signs, but the effect how a spaceexperienced character. there,

John Follis of Pasadena, California. felt an urgent need to humanize increa-

can also be ugly or chaotic, or both. The wayfinding public, commercial, or private-is destroying

During the 1960s Cold War period, critics, scholars, and designers discipline singly complex modern urban spaces. The design that evolved in response has been called graphics, signage or sign-system design, Over graphic design, and wayfinding. architectural environmental

by finding order in chaos without destination,

People will always need to know how to reach their where they are, what is happening







time, enterprising Olympics symbols,

firms and individuals, began to specialize exhibition,

such as Lance in sign system design in tandem product,

of the

City. Lynch explains that "way-finding"

based on sensation


Wyman, who won early acclaim for his Mexico '68 design. Some firms offered wayfinding with other services, including interior, precursor and corporate-identity of branding services. of pioneering Tom Geismar, Their

to the process of forming surroundings experience supported way-finding bus placards. accompanies "To become completely

a mental picture of one's and memory. lost is perhaps a rather rare


for most people in the modern city. We are by the presence of others and by special devices: maps, street numbers, route signs, once But let the mishap of disorientation

design, the latter the

The long and notable list of principals American firr~s includes Ivan Chermayeff, contemporaries partners

occur, and the sense of anxiety and even terror that it reveals to us how closely it is linked to our sense of balance and well-being."? Twenty years later Romedi Passini wrote Wayfinding in Architecture and probed the subject in greater depth. In 1992 he coauthored Wayfinding: People, Signs, and Architecture with Paul Arthur, a Canadian professor-cumdesigner who made a personal mission of advancing the field by reigniting In addition developed innovative interest in Lynch's observations. wayfinding projects and evenassociation founded by a to coining the term signage, Arthur also

Rudolph de Harak, and Lelia and Massimo Vignelli. of Pentagram, now a global collaborative, designer F. H. K. Henrion. women, and

in the United Kingdom included founding

as well as the venerable Wayfinding particularly

design has always attracted

in the early years when the field offered for career advancement For example, than more established disciplines of Ray and

a much better platform business ownership such as architecture.

Barbara Stauffacher while Elaine by Sue Gould for popularizing

Solomon and Deborah Sussman (a protegee Charles Eames) flourished in California,

tually became a fellow of the Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD), the international dedicated in different handful of designers from architecture, wayfinding. to advancing the field. Originally

Lustig Cohen and Jane Davis Doggett made early inroads on the East Coast and were later followed and Ann Dudrow. Three writers are largely responsible best name to describe dedicated the term waYfinding, which seems to have stuck as the both the process and profession In 1960, urban to helping people navigate.

who wished to share their expertise graphic design, exhibition

fields, SEGD today serves many professionals planning,

design, product design, and interior design who practice Over time, environmental umbrella

graphic design

planner and teacher Kevin Lynch coined the term in his landmark book about urban spaces, The Image

became the preferred communications

term to describe any

intended for spatial application,


ranging from wayfinding spaces, exhibitions, competitions, website,

sign programs to branded and publications provide a lively by the


this realization

seems obvious,

but at the does not equal

and even public art. SEGD's annual

time the assertion

that more information

better understanding and the general public. Wurman's

had a major impact on designers books by author-publisher of data, notably

forum for new work to be shared and discussed global community wayfinding of practitioners. position designers

Most successful in a major firm, and

ideas; brilliant

start with a solid design education

Edward Tufte about the visualization his much-heralded

that leads to an entry-level technical developments.

Visual Display of Quantitative

and soon join SEGD to stay abreast of professional

information emphasis designers

(1983); and the growing demand for good design in the public realm have all had a effect on wayfinding. Greater of the Tufte's

positive trickle-down


In 1976 architect Architecture convention Richard Saul Wurman chose "The as the theme for an annual Institute of Architects, two of Information" of the American

on the need for experienced has in turn validated consistently


the profession

practitioners, endorsements

who often work in anonymity. from mainstream and researched

books, for instance,

receive enthusiastic press such as the While his crafted, and beautifully

setting the precedent decades later entitled Individually, conventional but presented specialization twentieth

for a book he produced discussed

New York Times

Scientific American.

Information Architects (1996).

in the book are diaa design and websitesfor much of the vehicles-maps, they represent

works are carefully apparent

the projects

they are not just visually public appetite diagrammatically.

but also satisfy an

communication as a collection,

for arcane content expressed army's doomed march graph depicting chart. the

grams, books, sign systems, symbols, that had been maturing

One of his most popular examples

turns a map of the Napoleonic radical reduction

to and from Russia into a dramatic

century without

a name until Wurman coined

in troops due to illness and death, all subset of way finding a chronology cultural, of all of

information architecture.
In one of his most popular books,

cleverly revealed in a simple, extraordinary

at a time

Map design is an important with its own fascinating dawn of language, economic, kinds of human pursuits, or political.


(1989), Wurman warned of the emotionally effects of information technologies. overload by the novelty of perWith twenty years'

history. Existing since the whether intellectual,


maps represent

when people were captivated sonal computing

The most iconic examples




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cu cu

c ""

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wayfinding networks

maps were designed to help the public systems such as railway and and subways. Though global positioning devices,

Sophisticated by the internet generation

international explosion,



navigate early transportation other digital technologies

have accelerated


about the pace of global change and inspired the newest of designers to mobilize for action like never face an exciting era and radical century may, with a number social upheaval, of the twenty-first renaissance, before. These young professionals of technological creativity. invention, The beginning

have moved spatial diagrams of the field today. to wayfinding.

off sign panels and into cars or handheld mapping remains at the forefront Symbols provide a shortcut Symbol design is equally important

way for large groups of who manage transportation to Tom study project he of Graphic Arts, for

in fact, become wayfinding's of capable firms springing There is no question, field is very competitive, to produce outstanding technological procedures to attract deals with a handshake must negotiate demonstrate

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people who may not share a common language to communicate. facilities directed started Authorities and other public places are indebted symbol-sign Institute for the American

up each year and more than however, that the wayfinding which puts pressure on firms

enough work to go around to sustain them.

Geismar. The landmark

work and stay current with Designers who once sealed and principals packages must now follow bureaucratic compensation

in the 1970s, organized

a coherent family of


fifty symbols that today serves as a foundation many symbol sets developed venues (see chapter 3.4).

for use in parks and other

to secure a client contract, good employee and keep talented

staff on board. These trends wayfinding future for to travel,


Wayfinding design has finally come of age and not a by many a twentiethGetting people from with all the highway of the world's our cities continue to sprawl as their grow unwieldy. complicated, them in complex spaces especially complexity moment too soon. As predicted century prophet, infrastructures is increasingly transportation

the health of the profession: who think spatially,love

remains an open-ended young practitioners profession opportunities

field with a promising

and have a knack for communicating. need to recognize the fascinating, it offers.

For the wayfinding

to remain healthy and prosper, students multidisciplinary

place to place and orienting

options now available-from

to Segway. The expanding built environment portion

, Bernard Rudofsky. Streets for People: A Primer for Americans

(Garden City,

seems to be growing in direct pro-

to the demise of the natural one.

NY:Doubleday. 1969), 17. 2 Kevin lynch, The Image of the City (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1960), 4.




We believe that the designer should be able to design anything, "from spoon to the city" because the basic discipline of design is one, the only things that change are the specifics.

During the past forty years, as the environmental graphic design profession matured, the range of wayfinding projects rapidly expanded. Inthe 1970s the early professional practice of architectural graphics mainly entailed designing signs for architects' and developers' buildings. Today almost every type of public space and most private complexes require a wayfinding scheme. The clients who commission signage systems for these venues-together with the designers and to a fabricators who create them-belong


dynamic, creative industry.

LEARN ABOUT Different types of clients who hire wayfinding designers and the kinds of projects they commission



Visual surveys on the following two spreads give an overview of the diversity of client and project types. Who Hires a Wayfinding Designer?on pages 20-21 presents the different industries and market sectors that require wayfinding systems. On one hand are large centers for transportation, education, and healthcare, where effective and efficient sign age is crucial; on the other are sports arenas, hotels, and mixed-use developments, where good wayfinding can support a rich customer experience. In urban areas wayfinding systems become a part of the civic infrastructure and the public narrative of the city. Within various business sectors there are many different kinds of projects. What Do Wayfinding Clients Need?on pages 22-23·provides a typology. These can vary from a sign age system for an individual building, or for a whole campus or building complex. These two visual surveys offer a framework for understanding the scope of wayfinding design.

A corporate client, for example, may need to complete interior signage for a new office building to obtain a legal certificate of occupancy and set up the building for tenants. That same corporation may also wish to use branded signage to advertise and attract customers, or to signal a change of corporate ownership by rebranding signage at multiple branch locations (see chapter 3.1). Other private institutions have their own particular signage specifications. In the case of a hospital, for instance, the facilities department may issue a Request for Proposal (RFP)for wayfinding sign age to connect a new building to a larger campus. In their view the primary audience for the sign age consists of the patients and visitors who need to find physicians, treatment centers, and other destinations quickly. Secondary audiences include internal groups like doctors, nursing staff, and maintenance and service people. As in most multidepartmental organizations, the hospital sign system affects many departments and personnel. For example, the development office may be obligated to name the new building after a major donor. The architect of the new building will be concerned that signage is integrated effectively with the architectural design intent. The communications department may decide to use the opportunity to roll out a new institutional identity. Operators of the hospital cafeteria or gift shop may have requirements or even lease agreements that need to be considered regarding the scope of their signage. An effective wayfinding program can easily balance the needs of the different constituencies, supporting and enabling a positive experience.

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Successful wayfinding design depends on understanding three variables: the nature of the client organization, the people with whom the organization communicates, and the type of environment in which the system will be installed. It is important to research and define all three of these variables clearly at the outset of a project. In developing the wayfinding strategy and designing the sign system, the designer will have to create a family of sign types that not only addresses primary information and wayfinding needs but also recognizes secondary issues and audiences with an appropriate information hierarchy and sign-messaging protocols. The wayfinding requirements of a municipal client must often address different user groups in various settings. The institution interacts with a diverse community-locals and tourists-all coming to visit city centers, city parks, or other public spaces. In addition, the environmental graphics need to attract commercial developers in urban-development opportunities.




The client is either an individual or a large team of people that provides direction and supervision and sets project parameters. A typical client could be the owner of a single property or developer of a large complex, the operator of a transit line, or a facility manager of a hospital. Clients often act on their own behalf but can also enlist people, such as a project-management consultant or company, to represent them at various




The Design Principal

identification sign? Highlighting world-class architecture with special details? Or maybe it's just helping to get the building to market faster by getting the code-required signage installed within two months. Other kinds of projects have other objectives. The builder of a stadium delivers value by giving home-team fans a good wayfinding experience via festive, team-branded signage that adds to the excitement of game day and makes it easy to get from street to seat and back again. This is a form of brand extension that gives the fans subtle incentive to come back, game after game, season after season. Loyalfans, in turn, add value to the home-team franchise, and that value enables the stadium owner to charge a premium for sponsors and concessionaires to promote their brands and products within the stadium environment. Project objectives can be that simple, and that complex. The designer's job is to do the necessary homework: researching and understanding the client's business goals well enough to add significant value through the signage and wayfinding program.
Ann Harakawa, principal ofTwo TwelveAssociates and a YaleUniversity graduate, has over twenty-five years' experience working In the design Industry.

Our company, TwoTwelveAssociates, has always been dedicated to creating designs and public information systems that improve the dynamics between people and the places they visit. AsTwoTwelveevolved from a small studio to a planning consultancy, it soon won bigger contracts that demanded a higher level of supervisory responsibility. The core lesson we've learned over time is that designing a great product goes hand in hand with delivering value for the money. Whether your client for a wayfinding project is a corporation or an institution, this means paying attention to the bottom line: understanding the budget and managing it all the way through the project, letting the client know when requests for changes will push fees over estimate and offering solutions to cut production costs or streamline the work process. Beyondmeeting these basic expectations, designers should look for unique ways to add value to the project or product. Youneed to understand your client's business objectives, both explicit and inherent, and ensure that your design solutions meet them. Adeveloper of a new building, for example, seeks the highest rents possible, so the designer needs to figure out where value can be built into every aspect ofthe solution. Isit emphasizing a desirable address with a striking

stages in the process. Many wayfinding managed by architects interpretation supervise who represent



the interests or

of their clients and also strive to ensure the holistic of their design vision for the building and installation complex. Often, a construction the fabrication manager may be hired to of wayfinding

elements along with the rest of the architecture.



Who Hires a Wayfinding Designer?

These images illustrate need wayfinding operate. the diversity of clients who they systems and the kinds of facilities challenges. Even though every space is unique, venues in

each category share typical wayfinding

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Colleges and universities, museums, cultural centers, visitor centers, zoos, and aquariums



Hotels and resorts, planned communities, convention centers



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Arenas and stadiums, sports complexes, theme parks, performance spaces


Buildings, mixed-use developments with residential, hospitality, and retail spaces


CORPORATIONS Private office interiors, corporate campuses, building complexes, branch or franchise location


RETAIL Individual stores, department stores, shopping centers

HEALTH CARE Hospitals, hospital complexes, research campuses

FRNMENT Municipal centers, state and federal complexes, urban spaces and plazas, streetscapes, downtowns, public parks, playgrounds

TRANSPORTATION Airports; public transportation: subway, bus, commuter rail, interctty trains, ferry services; ship terminals and ports


What Do Wayfinding

Clients Need?
These images illustrate The complexity proportion property. building the range of design projects. grows in direct of the client's of the assignment to the scale and challenges Developing

a signage program for a single

can take a few months; a rail system might


.~ '"

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take years.




o E

Asingle landmark orfeature sign







'c III


o '" I-




Signage for multiple locations, branches, or franchises operated by one owner or manager, ranging from park systems to consumer banks

Exterior and interior signage for a group of buildings, public or private




Wayfinding system for a group of buildings operating together on one site, often institutional



Wayfinding design for multiple stops along a route including bus, rail, or subway lines, and highways



Exterior signage for individual parks, streets, or plazas; for trails and greenways; and for urban downtowns

Signage for an individual structure, exterior and/or interior


To communicate communication

is to be alive, to be active, in relation with others ... For is essentially an interchange, a question and a reply, an action in which he lives.

and a reaction between an individual and the environment


Before we dive into the specifics of planning and design, it is useful to step back and ask: Who designs the projects described in the previous section? How does someone become a successful wayfinding designer? How are they trained, and where do they work? It helps to understand is a subset of environmental that wayfinding graphic design, a larger

discipline that embraces many specializations including architecture and the design of graphic communications, maps, exhibitions, products, and interiors. Another way to understand the profession is by analyzing project structures and how designers fit tnto them. The charts in this chapter of small, medium, and large projects show different combinations of players.


LEARN ABOUT Environmental graphic design as a career path and how designers work in teams

In general there is no single, obvious for becoming a wayfinding interests, talents, career path graphic expeis or environmental ideas, training,

designer, but rather an indirect journey that combines obsessions, rience, and rnentorshlp. considered education recognized disciplines Just as the profession

eclectic, so are the backgrounds

of the people who are today; it follows graphic design

the master practitioners does not yet exist.

that an ideal model for an environmental Before environmental profession, identified

graphic design became a designers from a variety of

the demand for architectural systems. They began to offer within a interiors, to supplement educational their knowledge before entering the position. A solid balances good basic training in and in field or joining a firm at an entry-level foundation in wayfinding design-with communications three-dimensional an understanding in industrial the industry, system, where designer or designers of skills-graphic usually architecture,

signage and wayfinding more general practice, communications

these design services as specializations design, or product

design. It took years more schools and them every year

before academic courses on signage and wayfinding design became common, although universities commit to establishing (see Other Voices page 29). What has gradually curricula young designers evolved in lieu of organized skill sets become is an ad hoc apprenticeship with suitable wayfinding established

design, typography,

layout, and information

design for the built environment of the materials

and processes used or an internship or fabrication company,

design. Work experience such as at a printing

proteges of an established design team. Alternatively, sometimes Pentagram, designing

can also be invaluable. enough to establish diversity of subjects advanced-degree management approach working

If a young designer is ambitious with the education or by a university

a company, a familiarity offered

embrace environmental is a gifted typographer

graphic design later who started out

in their careers. For instance,

Paula Scher, principal

program can be greatly advantageous, or continuing-education design firms constantly by researching courses in refine their cultures, programs.

as are post-graduate skills. Even established

record jackets and now creates idiosyncratic in, on, and around buildings. of Sussman/Prezja & with Charles and especially for her

type compositions

Deborah Sussman, principal

to wayfinding

new technologies,

Company, began her career working best known designers, colorful, exuberant Several dedicated recognized environmental

in new parts of the world with different on increasingly projects, challenging ever-larger

Ray Eames and soon became one of the West Coast's wayfinding programs, graphic designers

or just embarking By tackling wayfinding do clients, wayfinding

firms can become more the core skills of good and ideas to bear, so Expertise in

adept at planning and strategizing, unique experience, understanding,

design. And as each new staff member brings collaborators, and fabricators.

with decades of experience, of way finding education. offer students challenges of wayfinding

such as Wayne Hunt, courses and the need

Chris Calori, and Lance Wyman, serve as the vanguard While individual insight into the profession

design ultimately

grows more from experience or career path.

than from a specific education

design, most students



Wayfinding designers organize themselves in several different ways depending on scale of operation. Typically, they are members of medium- or large-sized consulting firms in which creative work consumes a majority of the energies of the staff. Some designers work in small firms with only two or three employees, fostering an "all hands on deck" culture where everyone shares responsibilities. There are also environmental graphic design departments within architectural firms that function almost like independent contractors, developing signage systems for the parent firm and for outside clients as a separate profit center.

Small Project
Regional theater company's new home This design team is small and streamlined. Responsibilities are shared, and the designers maintain close contact with the client without intermediaries. The client group is also small and functions as an advisory review committee for the project manager. The consulting architect, who may be a collaborator, client, or just an advisor, reviews the signage program during development to see that it conforms to the design intent of the building.

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Theater Founder and President Project Manager

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Straightforward projects can be handled by a small studio with just a few people involved. Large projects requiring more complex teams are usually undertaken by bigger design companies, often in partnership with other firms. Executing these complex projects may require collaborators, either from inside the firm or outside experts hired for specific tasks, such as strategists to help analyze a situation, map makers and illustrators to create special pieces of artwork, and traffic engineers and technical specialists to create design documentation.

Architecture Firm






Medium Project
Urban biotechnology research campus

The design team is larger and more formalized in a medium-sized project. Eachteam member has a specific role, and lines of communication are more clearly drawn. The client group may still be small, but there are other players at the table, such as a creative consultant who is responsible for ensuring that his corporate client's design standards are followed. Because this is an urban project sponsored by an economic-development

department that represents the city's interests, the client and design team ultimately report to this department. The city art review commission has a stake in safeguarding the design integrity of the civic streetscape. Architects and landscape architects work on major aspects of the project's design. And for special landmark signs-a feature element of the site designa signage fabrication company has been retained to serve as a deslgn-build consultant.

THE CITY City Art Review Commission Civic Development Corporation

THE CLIENT TEAM Owner Vice President of Marketing Project Manager Creative Consultant



THE SIGNAGE DESiGN TEAM Principal. in-Charge SIGN FABRICATOR/ CONSUlTA'NT Sign Fabrication Company

Design Team Coordinator

Production Designer



Large Project
Professional football stadium


Byvirtue of their complexity, large-scale projects often have many participants at the client level who need to provide input and approvals. As this top-heavy chart shows, the new stadium will be home to two sports teams, each with multiple owners and the executives who report to them. A regulatory commission, in this case a state development agency, oversees the design

and construction of the new stadium. The buildingdesign team ensures that the stadium's architecture, interior design, sponsorship signage, and wayfinding program are all carefully planned and integrated. A large environmental graphic design team, with its own hierarchy of managers, specialists, and designers, executes the wayfinding strategy by developing final designs and supervising their implementation.

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THE STATE State Sports Authority TEAM 1 ---THE FOOTBALLTEAMS ---TEAM Owner Finance Director Construction Director THE BUILDING DESIGN TEAM Design Architects Sponsorship and Wayfinding Planner Interior Designer Construction Director 2

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President Finance Director Marketing Director

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THE WAYFINDING, SIGNAGE, AND IMPLEMENTATION TEAM Principalin-Charge Project Manager Design Team Coordinator

Junior Designer


The Design Educator

still learn drawing for concept development purposes to be able to explore ideas in a fluid and expedient way. Our goal is to develop integrated programs with dedicated, full-time professors who hire experienced professionals as visiting or adjunct lecturers. The programs will offer EGDcourses in the third and fourth years of a student's studies or at the graduate level alongside more standard concentrations such as illustration, industrial desiqn, or package design. We also encourage collaboration with architecture or planning departments to fully round out an EGDeducation. After developing proficiency in foundational skills, students can explore specialized subjects that may vary depending on the institution but will likelyinclude wayfinding, branded environments or placemaking (see chapter 3.1),and exhibition design. The type of programs offered by Kent State and Drexel University are successful models because they attract many EGDpractitioners to teach on a rotating basis, which is more powerful than having one person repeat a subject year in, year out. University programs encourage students to concentrate less on learning technical skills,such as developing a sign message schedule, than on becoming strong conceptual thinkers and communicatorsbefore joining a firm, graduates need to know how to write a concept statement, con-duct research, and put a design brief together as much as how to develop technical drawings or plan complex systems. Firms today compete in two ways: by offering either a higher level of design or more efficient services. We aim to help our membership achieve both of these goals by building better academic programs and by fostering design leadership throug h increasing ly sophisticated educational offerings.
Craig M. Berger is director of education and professional training for SEGD and editor of the book WayJindlng:
Navigational Systems (2005). Designing and Implementing Graphic

The environmental graphic design profession is such a vibrant, growing field that there is a much greater demand for young designers than the marketplace can supply. Firms compete for the limited number of design school graduates who have the necessary wayfinding or signage background and often have to spend several years training in-house staff before they can manage teams or work on complex projects. Since its founding, the Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD) as addressed this problem in part by h connecting professionals with teachers and students and by producing workshops, conferences, research papers, and publications. SEGD'sultimate academic mission is to develop fullfledged partnerships with university design departments in order to build environmental graphic design (EGD)courses into their curricula, ultimately making it a concentration. Before focusing on a subject as specific as wayfinding, students need to learn fundamentals of communication desiqn, particularly typography and branding identity, as well as three-dimensional design. And while the ascendancy of computers has rendered the technical drawing skills previously taught in trade schools obsolete, students should





Function isfine but designers as the artists of our system must, as it were, provide the spice as well as the nutrition.

Each design project is a unique assignment with desigI.

nated team members, special logistical and technical requirements, and distinct design goals. There are, however, predictable steps that define the process of wayfinding design. Understanding this procedure helps the designer-and the client, for that matter-succeed. As the designer gains experience, he or she will be able to complete more projects efficiently and profitably.

LEARN ABOUT Each phase in the design process and the products delivered


The process chart on the following general template In smaller projects or even eliminated. schedule. pages provides projects combined a rush a steps in the design process and the usual order in which they are undertaken. Each phase in this chart is addressed in greater appear at the and on detail later in the book; chapter references designer's products project. typical deliverables-the for how most wayfinding phases are sometimes

proceed once the design firm is awarded a contract. At times several phases of a job to accommodate projects, there may be pauses or project planners before wayfinding the typical

the bottom of each column. It also briefly describes presentations that designers process. create throughout

may have to run concurrently For long-term

the life of the

between stages when the architects execute work that must be completed design can continue.

Unusual or special projects follow variations

the standard

The chart describes

r-=!J V 11/

The Wayfinding Designer

virtual environments that simulate the walk-through experience-animation and 3-0 rendering may provide the new best way to demonstrate wayfinding. Growing demand for sustainable design solutions (see chapter 3.6) influences materials selection and even the scale of a sign program. While it's often best to minimize the number of signs in a program, specifying too few may require building staff to implement wasteful quick-fix solutions and actually add more signs in the long run. Asa mature EGOfirm we work on large, complex way-findjng projects that require design solutions with timeless appeal and long-term durability. Ateam might be involved in a sports-stadium project for several years after the de-sign strategy has been established. These types of projects offer the opportunity to affect thousands if not millions of people. The work is rewarding, but it requires time and patience to collaborate with the client's team until consensus is reached. When a number ofthese long-term engagements are running simultaneously, the ability to keep track of concurrent assignments at different phases is essential. Aninterest in graphic desiqn, architecture, sci-ence, branding, and materials is also indispensablenot to mention the ability to read a scale rulerl
Anthony Ferrara Is the creative director at TwoTwelve Associates.

When Ibecame an environmental graphic designer about twenty years ago, designers still wrote out type specifications for outside typesetting services and produced technical drawings by hand. The standardized process we follow for wayfinding design, however, has changed very little because our work phasing follows the time-tested process established by architects (see chart on pages 34-35). We now spend more time at the front end of a new project on planning, which requires understanding the client's goals and the needs ofthe end-user, and studying the unique wayfinding challenges presented by a specific site or building. Thisplanning work involves research, meetings, site visits, and analysis of information such as circulation patterns. Our firm focuses on the strategic aspect of planning: confirming a clear set of the design goals and recommending what types of signs will be necessary for better navigation. We act as the users' representative and try to understand a space or building from their point of view. Other factors affecting the way we work today are the changing market environment and client expectations. State-of-the-art computer capabilities and competition for projects are forcing wayfinding designers to produce increasingly sophisticated presentations in addition to the standard realistic renderings, models, and prototypes. Architects have raised client expectations by presenting


The Design Process

Hold project kickoff meeting, conduct user interviews, focus-group meetings, and site surveys to understand operational requirements and other demands the wayfinding system must address. For any new construction, review architectural plans and analyze anticipated circulation patterns. Identify exterior vehicular and pedestrian traffic flows and interior pedestrian patterns for key user groups. Determine user patterns and needs to establish the basis for the design program. Describe the problem to be solved. Based on results from the research-and-analysis phase, propose a strategy for the wayfinding system. This strategy will be the functional framework for the system, explaining how it will provide information and directions for a place and how it will address user requirements. Develop an outline of the types of signs that will be needed. Establish the design goals for the signage system. A clear and effective strategy will provide the basis for successful signage. With sign-type strategy established and circulation paths antlctpated, consider critical decision points and other key locations requiring signage. Plot each sign location on a plan. Create a draft of the messageschedule database with all sign texts entered. Use this database to calculate and budget preliminary sign fabrication costs. Bythe end of the project-during design development or documentation-complete messages can be recorded and final sign locations noted. Select key sign types and explore design alternatives, varyil)g the forms, materials palettes, color, typography, and content. All options should conform to the wayfinding strategy but investigate different approaches to content and visual vocabulary. Identity and branding design may occur at the beginning of schematic design. By the end of this phase, the design vocabulary should be established, and design direction approved.




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• Project schedule • Research report and site observations • Problem statement • Wayfinding strategy • Design goals • Outline of sign types • Draft sign location plans • Draft sign message schedules • Preliminary sign fabrication budget • Identity or branding design recommendations • Approved approach to the design vocabulary using selected sign types

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2.2 Planning and Strategy 2.2 Planning and Strategy 2.3 The Categories of Signs 2.4 Sign Content and locations 3 Wayfinding Design



Develop the approved schematic design scheme to resolve details of typography, color, materials, finishes, and mounting for the wayfinding program. Finalize designs for each sign type and get client approvals. Coordinate with the architect and engineer about power requirements, structural issues, and architectural integration. Revise the sign-fabrication budget now that the sign quantities are fixed and the details resolved.

Create design-intent drawings for all of the approved sign types. Create final sign layouts, elevations, and fabrication details to define design intent. Write sign specifications to describe the deSign-intent standards and all special requirements. Assemble or complete the final sign location plans and sign message schedules.

Identify and contact qualified sign fabricators. Hold a prebid meeting or conference call to explain the project, discuss the design-intent documents, and answer any questions. Throughout the bidding process, provide clarification of the design-intent documents as necessary. Once the fabricators have submitted bids, assist the client with their evaluation and the selection of a bidder based on qualifications and price quotation.

Attend a preconstruction meeting to clarify the design-intent documents for prospective bidders. Throughout the process, review fabricator submissions and answer any related questions. Make site visits to the chosen fabricator's workshop to review materials, colors, samples, etc. After fabrication is complete, provide supervisory assistance on site during installation. Inspect final installation and create punch list of necessary corrections and modifications.

• Developed details of all sign types • Refined fabrication budget estimate • Design-intent documents • Final sign location plan • Final sign message schedule • Sign specifications • Bidders list • Review services • Clarification sketches • Review services • Punch list


3 Wayfinding Design 4.3 Code Requirements 4.4 Documentation Fabrication and 4.4 Documentation Fabrication and 4.4 Documentation Fabrication and




Just as this printed page, if it is legible, can be visually grasped as a related pattern of recognizable symbols, so a legible city would be one whose districts or landmarks or pathways are easily identifiable and are easily grouped into an overall pattern ...

When people attempt to navigate a place for the first time, they face a series of decisions as they follow a path to their destination. There is a sequential pattern to this wayfinding process-in effect, a series of questions that people ask themselves along the way. Before starting the design process, the wayfinding consultant must anticipate visitor patterns, understand that logic, and apply it in the planning phase. Then work can begin on a framework for the wayfinding design program.



LEARN ABOUT The development of effective wayfindlng strategies

as a century-old hospital campus or a huge urban to uncover the hidden logic system. subway system. In the process of tracing the visitor's path, the designer attempts a strategic framework of the place. Once that is clear, the designer can develop for the wayfinding


The wayfinding underlies strategy is the idea or system that A strategy netthe design of a signage program.

might help define the lines of a transportation work, the wings of a building, of a city, or the precincts wayfinding connectors, instance, divided the neighborhoods

of an academic campus. that organize most are modeled streets, For of districts, and navigate.

There are four types of strategies after urban planning: the concepts

systems. These strategies or landmarks

can all be used to help a place is within

make places easier to understand district into meaningful

systems are pervasive:

zones for use on signs and are clustered corridors

maps, and specific destinations


Imagine you are a visitor looking for a museum in the cultural district approach excitement: of a large city where many buildings style and look alike. You and Is this have the same architectural

those districts. metaphor,

Where streets provide the wayfinding and pathways network across a space. Conthat connect all of the Landmark strategies or primary these con-

easily recognizable

form a comprehensible destinations destination temporary

nectors are simple bold pathways within one location.

one, feeling a mixture of hesitance Am I going in the right direction?

direct people to major nodes, like elevators points. In order to understand wayfinding concepts,

the museum I want to visit? If the old main door looks closed, you might be confused building: about how to enter the Should I enter by that new side door next exhibit? and readily designer

it is useful to look at for these ideas.

urban history to see the inspiration

to the parking lot? And once inside: How do I find the Renaissance painting make decisions


Cities are by their very nature complex places, dense with people and the different neighborhoods where they reside and work. An understanding and geographic wayfinding microcosm structures is essential of how cities for effective an urban

At each stage in this sequence, the visitor must based on the available, visible, information. facilitate effortless The job of the wavftndlng

is to present information

in public spaces that helps In other words, should feel as

evolved systems that organize or define their social practice. City in Beijing exemplifies carefully planned to convey a specific court.

a seamless visitor experience. and simplified

the necessary sequence of movement for instance,

as possible so that ten steps, is to determine where to

The Forbidden

seem to require only two or three. challenge

The designer's

message. Built in the early decades of the fifteenth century, the palace housed the Chinese imperial axial and highly symbolic: its high, imposing The form and layout of the palace complex was rigidly walls,

locate signs, what they should say, and how they should say it. Thoughtful the designer understand research and analysis help a complex public place, such


university framework. This system of residential and specific gateways, a mechanism and was of academic colleges, each with distinct arms, defined precincts, organizing a kind of early campus wayfinding, understandable entities. names, coats of

the puzzle of Gothic buildings

into coherent

The Forbidden City, Beijing, China (Connector model)

concentric materials,

system of gateways and courtyards, and place names all communicated

colors, the City's the

court's power. For those outside the Forbidden walls, the architecture power and dominance. succession to important of courtyards

and the urban design symbolized For those allowed entrance, The strong central linking and palaces clearly led the way
Rome, Italy (Landmarks model)

central destinations.

During the baroque period, Pope Sixtus V had a vision for recapturing Rome's ancient glory. In order to create find their way, the pope confocal points structured future In some a grander setting for the seat of the modern Catholic empire, and help pilgrims axial roads and landmark growth indicated and development. the location ceived an urban master plan for the city. His system of The center point of each axis were relocated

axis through the palace complex was a connector of Beijing is being torn apart today to accommodate extraordinary growth, the integrity

the world outside to the emperor. Though the fabric of the Forbidden

City's plan survives.

of a major civic landmark.

cases Egyptian and Roman monuments churches were remodeled landmarks innovations

to these places to define them, in others, extant ancient in the baroque style. These to Sixtus's for future a distinct pattern survive in situ today, a testimonial that established of this great city.

urban development


of Cambridge, United Kingdom (District


Examining a medieval cityscape different kind of spatial organization. city northeast of Cambridge and university of meandering university

reveals a very The University century in the of London. Town

grew during the thirteenth mingled together

heart of a then-small

into a complex thicket to medieval

New York, New York (Streets model)

streets, the result of the city's evolution to Norman settlement like its great rival in Oxford,

from Roman outpost

town. Cambridge,

evolved into a network

of colleges within the larger


By the nineteenth and more complex, organization

century, as cities became larger planners proposed new systems of document the The Commissioners'

to cope with growth.

Plan of 1811 for New York City, a remarkable that shaped the city's growth, simple wayfinding mechanism

relied upon a deceptively for understanding streets and avenues. that inherited have a Further north, While

urban layout: the grid of numbered The result is that contrasts the footprint confusing, wayfinding

in New York are dramatic; settlements

for example, areas of Lower Manhattan of its colonial-era if charming, tangle of streets.

a grid of numbered the intersection

streets and avenues takes over, and

becomes clear and understandable.

of Nassau and Pine streets down in most out-ofThe arrondissements of Paris

the Financial District sounds mysterious, Street very easily.

towners are able to find Fifth Avenue and Fifty-fourth imitators have provided a worldwide reference for finding destinations and landmarks within the tangle and used bold strokes


With these systems for organizing it is instructive visual and conceptual cities have adopted urban space in mind, devices that Red and yellow the coats of to take a closer look at some of the communication precinct. over time. In Beijing, specific colors use and signified

mystery of foreign cities. Civic planner Baron Haussmann in mid-nineteenth-century the city by introducing a system of radial boulevards. or districts: provided cenHe also spiraling conway
Paris street sign

Paris when he modernized

helped to define the imperial

were reserved for the emperor's arms represent Starting for tourists'

created arrondissements, centric city zones that a shorthand for Parisians and visitors to dissect the city into areas they could remember these districts developed meanings. Additionally,

majesty of his Forbidden City. In Cambridge, hand for identifying different

each of the colleges, creating a shortparts of the university.

in the second quarter of the nineteenth travel guides with his authoritative

tury, German publisher

Karl Baedeker set the standard books

and find easily. Over time specific social and cultural artful signs, intro-

Coats of Arms, University

of Cambridge

filled with notes about destinations, for attractions. automobile important of the automobile, Andre Michelin's that travelers

routes, and ratings availability guides for the new a narrative

of the


duced in the nineteenth and the arrondissement

century, show the street name number and are as fundamental as the Eiffel Tower. of boundaries was super-

to the Parisian streetscape zip codes, another pattern imposed facilitate

When the United States Post Office established over New York's street grid. These codes mail and parcel delivery, but they also convey Having a specific zip code indicates or 10065 on the Upper do

Shortly after the widespread provided

social information.

owners, likewise, destinations

economic status-l0021 neighborhood

would encounter

East Side imply wealth and social distinction-as names such as Carnegie Hill.

on a trip to Rome, for example. These guides and their


Most large environmental projects

graphic design

begin with research, when the way· that inhabit the place,

finding team studies a site in detail to identify the populations wayfinding, observation pathways,


ways that they follow, any obstacles and opportunities and documentation, and gathering promote it. The site investigation streets or corridors,

to good

that might involves walking the

and looking at landmarks, points. While exploring its physical

a space, the designer observes characteristics typical

London Underground Map, 1933

and the human dynamics that patterns for different of information they

take place there. This may include studying circulation complete populations need. In addition, century, metto to reviews-a detailed and whatklnd

research also requires plan drawings for subjects constituent interviews.

In the second half of the nineteenth ropolitan workplaces twentieth railroads and recreational

study of the architectural

began to connect city dwellers destinations. came together

of a building or complex-and Depending

By the early

on the time and budget available interview operators, and security program

century, these railroads

research, as well as project priorities, may include facility senior executives, uncovers additional place-problems

form mass- transit systems. As these systems grew after the turn of the century and the public needed

managers, of a

guards. This process that may exist but It is important



help deciphering code the different

routes, map makers began to color lines. Harry Beck's precedent-setting issued in the over maps forever. He organized the typography spatial wayfinding

details and the peculiarities

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and opportunities

map design for the London Underground, 1933, cbanged transit spaghetti

are not visible from mere observation. that the designer understands or are expected to experience gathered during interviews,

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how people experience a place. Using data as well as notes from site

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of routes into a system of lines all drawn at He structured symbolically.


This brilliant information,

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a grid and noted the station interchanges map codified and abstracted foreshadowing contemporary

surveys and plan reviews, the designer then diagrams people's movements. become obvious Depending tutional Pathways and decision points in the process, and issues of identity it a city




systems and, curiously, of the Forbidden

also recalling the rigid geometry

and image are also revealed. on the nature of the place-be building, or an existing center, a new corporate

City (see chapter 3.4).


ously described



focus and depth of way finding

The historic examples of urban coding methods ners created to organize and communicate urban infrastructure. sign age programs determine These methods for the modern wayfinding

research will vary. For existing spaces being re-signed, the study focuses on what is already in place, how it works, where the problems are, and what changes need to be implemented. For new facilities, the research reveals how the place will appear to the user and how it is expected to function.

typify systems that early city planaspects of provide models

designer to use to organize

for various types of spaces. These wayfinding approach

coding systems are applied only after initial planning to the most appropriate project. for a particular


.. User Circulation: Corporate Technical Center

• "'" • • Steps in circulation Sample route Sample destination Gates open to staff Connector routes from gates Loop Road Connector from Loop Road to parking Staff parking • Buildings process

The circulation

diagram shown above shows the by a particular user group, in this center. technical

analysis of circulation Interactions

case staff coming to the corporate


Employee enters at a gate, noting the number on the entrance sign and the hours of operation signs to the final destination. sees the appropriate parking-lot directional for the building and turns off of Loop Road. signs, and row markers. on the regulatory sign. Employee drives on Loop Road and follows vehicular directional

at each step in the process are described. overlaps, and

€» Employee

This scenario is one of several done for different user groups. A review of the parallels, contradictions between the different shows the designer visitor information wayfinding strategy. user pathways


Employee enters assigned parking lot, which is marked with building name. lot identification

how to assess the need for at the center and how to develop a

o o

Employee enters building at card-key staff entrance where minor building identification and door- regulatory signage is present. Upon entering that building, the employee sees and follows building directories appropriate and/or interior directionals. Employee proceeds to the workspace that is signed with the floor, room. and column identification.


Having looked separately their pathways, at different constituencies summary might be and the designer next develops patterns, and pedestrian movement



campus by showing the movement of arrival places recommendations and content of signs. walkway network; the are

of people and cars and the location grams to create a set of wayfindlng and a strategy The pedestrian vehicular directed for the placement

and decision points. The designer examines these dia-

maps of the overall circulation campus, vehicular mapped separately establish wayfinding pedestrian

On an outdoor experiences

to show the different

drawing shows the east-west campus circulation

each entails. With this information strategy.

the designer can

system as a full-fledged

a family of sign types and devise a site-specific on the facing page describe the wayfinding systems for the

drawing depicts a system in which visitors and visitor parking

along the central roadway and then separated

The two drawings

into east and west circulation

and vehicular

systems. A picture begins to emerge.

The Campus Planner

As campus planners for Princeton University, our team works independently of the many architects hired by the admin-istration to design buildinqs. While Princeton selects world-class architects who do innovative work, each one of them grapples with a unique set of constraints. Our job is to provide objectivity and continuity and to make sure that every building fits into the campus as a whole. The same principle holds true for working with a wayfinding team. The ideal campus wayfinding consultant works collaboratively and designs with a very light touch. After interviews and visits to the campus, our wayfinding team identified different features about Princeton's landscape that particularly help people find their way around. We had interesting debates-everyone has a different idea about how the campus should be organized, whether by neighborhood, topography, or historic period-but in the end we came to consensus about what works. Since the wayfinding program needed an organizing principle, we chose Princeton's beloved system of established circulation pathways, or "walks," as the framework upon which to organize all future development. Because of this structure, new buildings will be better sited and more accessible from key circulation routes. Given a choice, architects, planners, and administrators would probably do away with signs completely I But after an unembellished presentation proved just how hard it is for visitors to find the admission's office, the administration appreciated the need to improve campus wayfinding. While eliminating signs entirely was unrealistic, we kept signage to a minimum by introducing visual prompts into the landscape to make movement more intuitive. New public buildings and structures were sited to function as arrival landmarks and gateways, while the campus landscape was refined to open up and highlight Princeton's system of walks, which serve as important pathways for pedestrian movement. Our end product is the Princeton Campus Plan, a report that will guide development for at least ten years. Using the term master plan tends to be problematic today because it suggests that everything has already been worked out, without flexibility for unanticipated changes. We prefer the idea of a framework-an armature upon which everything hangs-to describe planning guidelines based more on a philosophy than on hard-and-fast rules. This approach serves a major institution much longer and more effectively than a traditional master plan.
Nell Kittredge, AlA, AICP, Is partner and director of planning design for Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP. and urban


, fi

Pedestrian and Vehicular Strategies: Princeton University


Pedestrian Wayfinding Diagram

Major campus destination Visitor information Campus map case Pedestrian pathway directional Primary pedestrian route route kiosk


Secondary pedestrian

Vehicular Wayfinding Diagram

iii Major

Primary campus destinations directional directional

IICampus identification
Restricted access sign

iii Visitor

parking (off-campus)

.. -

Primary roads Campus driveways Restricted-use campus roads

iii Secondary

® Campus guard booth



Synthesizing research

ts critical

for effective pages-site

wayfinding such observations,

design. By reviewing interview

plan information studies-the

as that shown on the previous

data, and user circulation

A Historic City (Districts model)
City Founder William Penn laid out the city of Philadelphia When creating a pedestrian wayfinding system for the historic city center more than three hundred years later, the designer embraced Penn's four quadrants and the adjacent area, historic waterfront on a rational grid in the late 1600s.

designer seeks to uncover "the hidden logic" of a place. This hidden logic is the pattern organization framework the beginning of wayfinding landmarks, that characterizes for the wayfinding strategies, and streets. are, in essence, different types of views of complex quickly of movement or spatial at a place and serves as a system. As discussed

of the chapter, there are four main types based on connectors, districts,

These strategies

mental maps, simple diagrammatic and easily. Designers to structure navigate, to district, landmarks. depending

places that people grasp and understand

use these maps or frameworks on the strategy, from district or between to

a system of signs that will help people along streets or corridors, The strategy through

is revealed both graphically, the architecture,

created names and symbols for them, and used these historic districts as the cornerstones of a pedestrian signage program.

on signs, and spatially,

people where they enter the system at one or more arrival points. The system then leads people on to further decision points. These examples (see also Children's demonstrate Boston case how these strategies environments actually work in contemporary Hospital

study on pages 60-62 in chapter 2.4).

<I • CD


The map (right) shows the buildings medical center. The diagrams for using different hospital highlights together, buildings. geographic color-coded. elevators basic strategic wayfinding signage program. a connector and corridors of the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus a large, urban academic (opposite) strategies show options to organize the the four Option 1 complex

These demonstrate previously.

concepts described

that ties the hospital and visitors

leading patients

to the different into districts, building

Option 2 divides the hospital clusters of buildings as destinations

that are named and Option 4 is

Option 3 treats the individual or landmarks.

based on the streets model; with named c-orridors.


(2nd Floor)

Hospital (Connector model)

At Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, the main connector was named the Pike, a spin on the Massachusetts Turnpike, familiar to most state residents. Access points to buildings "exits" became numbered on the Pike.

Strategy Option 1 (Connector model)


Option 2 (Districts



Strategy Option 3 (Landmarks



Option 4 (Streets model)





Signs are necessary in innumerable ways. Their mission is either one of social function or of economic necessity ... The general arrangement of both public and private signs should have a character and an expression that is congenial to and beneficial for the individual and the community.

A wayfinding system links different people together, even if they do not share a common language or destination, by guiding all of them through the same space with a single system of communication.

The unifying language of a

wayfinding system creates a public narrative of how people witness, read, and experience a space. Each sign in a system, each separate voice, serves a particular function and displays a specific kind of content called a message, which might include nonverbal graphic symbols, images, and words.
LEARN ABOUT Different types of signs most wayfinding programs require


The narrative

is the voice of the building

and that of its of the

Sign Types List

For an indoor retail center with on-site parking

owner, revealing the pathways and essential information

and destinations

building or space, the rules that govern how to use it, about activities happening statement within. It is the job of the wayfinding these voices together Most wayfinding several categories orientation, as people navigate the space. systems can be broken down into of signs: identification, directional, This section will explore design and about a place. in many large who where there is a designer to weave

IDENTIFICATION Site monument identification Site entry identification Building mounted identification Entrance identification Parking area identification Accessible parking identification DIRECTIONAL Off-site trailblazers On-site vehicular directional signs Pedestrian directional signs REGULATORY Parking regulations Entrance information

into a single eloquent

and regulatory.

the variety of signs used in wayfinding how they can accentuate Donor recognition wayfinding compelling programs, impressions signs, often included are employed

need to acknowledge In the interest

the individuals

have made it possible to build and fit out a new institutional facility. of brevity, and because function program, than the other that category is donor signs serve a different elements of the wayfinding not presented in this chapter. pages offer a in the of sign types found around the in a local

The pictoral essays on the following glimpse of the diversity world. Vernacular professional


signs that are not "designed"

sense are often very effective

context but are not included

in these visual surveys.

IDENTIFICATION Store identification Area/Level identification Public amenity identification Service and maintenance identification Office identification Elevator and stair identification DIRECTIONAL Directional signs ORIENTATION Mall directory Elevator/Floor directory REGULATORY Fireegress maps Lifesafety signs


Identification Signs
The building blocks of way finding, identification of a destination. it is a signs often provide the first impression and function These signs are visual markers that display the name of a place or space, whether building, room, an individual indicate

Minnesota Children's Museum

51. Paul, Minnesota

or a campus gateway. and end of routes and

They appear at the beginning entrances destinations. While identification not purely functional. historic context. identity generally explicitly

and exits to primary and secondary signs clearly mark transitions Styled appropriately, character, they also and even its a place's


iii .... o


'" .c: ....


.~ ::; s

from one type of space to another, their purpose is express a place's personality, by presenting

These signs can communicate

an actual logo or more

by evoking an image.


~ ~



LAX Airport
Los Angeles, California

c:: c::


.s c::

'" bII


'" a::

Incheon International Airport

Incheon, South Korea

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles, California


City Museum
Heimbold Visual Arts Center
sarah Lawrence College Bronxville. New York Melbourne. Australia

HP Pavilion at San Jose

San Jose. California

Budapest. Hungary

Paris. France


Directional Signs
Directional signs constitute program the circulatory system of a wayfinding because they provide the necessary cues that users need to keep on the move once they have entered a space. This sign type routes pedestrian entrances, or vehicular traffic between main and such as key decision points, destinations, graphic prompts, symbols,

Norfolk. England

exit points by displaying

Vi Q
.~ ~

'bO "

typography, directional coordinated facility,

and arrows. While their design architecture, and an entire strategy.

should harmonize recognizable.

with the surrounding

signs also need to be obvious for easy navigation through

Message content should be simple,

~ '"

and based on a specific wayfinding






>'" :it

:g .E

·c c::

'" c::



'" a::

Roppongl Hills
Tokyo. Japan

Melbourne Docklands
Melbourne. Australia


8rltlsh Museum
London. England





DUsseldorf International Airport


Blblloteca Ant6nio Quadros




Orientation Signs
To make a complicated signs offer visitors space less baffling, orientation an overview of their surroundings site maps and directories. with signs in a system. visitors are able to with a or in the form of comprehensive The design of orientation other identification

Information kiosk
Toronto, Canada

signs needs to coordinate

and directional

When all these signs work together, move easily along circulation You Are Here indicator. structure routes.

Most site maps show people their location Orientation often display a plan map (axonometric

signs in a multilevel floor. Outdoor of the space.

flat, see chapter 3.4) of the pertinent maps show the boundaries

of a campus, entryways, are usually listed in either order. Other methods of cateIn the same orientation In buildings sign techto be to units returning

major buildings,
On directories, alphabetical gorization, throughout designers

or other components occupants

or numerical

such as by use or tenancy, can be helpful. a facility to avoid confusion.

most cases, maps should maintain where occupancy

changes are likely to be frequent, or digital

often utilize electronic

nologies that allow names and other information easily and economically the sign fabricator. Orientation mounted signs are usually large freestanding readily visible to many people simultaneously, if space does not allow. An exterior or district context. updated without

or wallorientation

map can also show how an entire site fits into the neighborhood

Airport directory
Ottawa. Canada

Park map
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Downtown map
San Antonio, Texas

Exhibition hall directories

Yokohama, Japan

City orientation kiosk

tondon, England

Campus map
Austin, Texas


Regulatory Signs
A regulatory sign describes the do's and don'ts of a how place. It can be as simple as a No Smoking sign or a more complex display with rules indicating Some regulatory messages, particularly citizens should enjoy and respect their public park. those that to describe egress from a building, another, it is important regulations Regulatory to communicate immediately. carefully, need to comply with

Thornhill, Ontario

legal codes. As codes vary from one jurisdiction


to become familiar with local and

Vi .... o

that apply to the site under consideration. signs should be unobtrusive instructions or warning of a place but large enough information making signs

.tteJ TOUeH
NEALTH RECU LAT10H •••.•...••


:5 ~

enhance the experience

!:::~ 101fT BUV f you



The writer needs to craft the language When the regulatory

clearly stating the intent without

the visitor feel unwelcome. are well integrated essential

into a sign system, they seem an of place and

part of the overall experience

not just a necessary evil.

41 !II




.5: ~ .5:


'" ~ ~ c


'" '"



Chicago Park District

Chicago, illinois

Dlemerpark IJburg
Amsterdam, Netherlands


London Underground
London, England

London, England

New York, New York

Queens West Development Corporation Parks

Long Island City, New York




The new time sense of typographic man is cinematic and sequential and pictorial.

Once analysis and strategy phases are complete, the designer then determines how to fit signs into a total system. This process, called
sign programming,

entails generating

a database of messages (actual text on signs) and the specific locations of all signs necessary for a particular building, complex, or campus. Sign programming is not to be confused with architectural programming, which determines the functional elements of a building-a related but different activity. To program messages and locations, the designer establishes the specific sign types the project requires and analyzes circulation patterns into, around, and through the site. Having established sign locations and functions, the designer drafts the actual message copy. This chapter covers the task of locating signs and developing a message schedule and contains a more general discussion of sign content.


LEARN ABOUT Creating sign content and choosing installation locations


Sign programming departure, begins with an analysis of arrival, points; circulation Depending pathways; on the project, and decision

messages are just placeholders Sign locations building still in question. is not yet fully detailed

until copy is finalized. when the is or a final location

may also be approximate

and signing opportunities. established

This early work is called preliminary

the designer either proceeds with a list of sign types by the client or uses the analysis process to later, it is essential The that or a space exhaustively with the territory. generate one. To avoid problems the designer survey a building to become completely familiar

programming; the later work, when messages and locations are all confirmed, final programming.
Typically, the first pass at programming before any signs have been designed, it is necessary to create diagrams presentation purposes process. These diagrams client or stakeholders elements occurs but sometimes

of the sign types for

initial list may contain more signs than are ultimately necessary, but it is safer to overestimate The designer marks up architectural possible sign locations to each location, message-either and edit later. plans with

or to help the programming make it easier to explain to a group how the signage system process: the list plan,

and then creates a database

will work. The case study on pages 58-59 shows the in the signage programming schedule. of sign types, sign elevations, and a sign-message a sign-location

of signs. Using a coding system to assign a sign type the designer also enters the actual a word or a phrase-associated

with each sign. In the early stages of data entry, some

Escalators up to Orchestra level

Coat Check


West Plaza

Circulation Analysis
This diagram shows the circulation ground-floor delineates different analysis for the entry of a large projected circusymbols indicate and

concert hall. The red line lation pathways, while the the kind of information

sign type required at each point. Once all floors have been surveyed, the requirements of the sign system come into focus, and actual signage programming commence. can

(lD=ldentification • •


Exterior building entrance lOs Interior building & level IDs

• Room & space IDs .... Interior directional signs Pedestrian circulation Escalators up to Orchestra level



These examples typify types, sign elevations, a slgn-location contexts.

documents a list of sign schedule, and track how List of Sign Types This list is broken down into the categories of signs: identification (lD), directional, and regulatory. Al A2.1 A3 A4 A5 A6 A7 AB A9 A10 All Bl B2 B3 B4 B5 Cl C2 C3 C4 C5 Primary station ID-facade mount Primary station entrance ID-overhead wall mount Station arrivallD-post mount Location ID-post mount Bus berth ID-canopy mount Window ID-overhead wall mount RoomID-wall mount Closet ID-wall mount Egressstair ID-door and wall mount RestroomID-wall mount Amenity ID-flag mount Directional-wall mount Directional-overhead wall mount Directional-overhead ceiling mount Directional-canopy mount Directional-strap mount Station regulatory-silk screen Regulatory-door mount Regulatory-post mount Regulatory-strap mount Regulatory-wall mount

sign-programming a sign-message

created for a small urban bus terminal:

plan. Red and blue highlights

two signs in the group are represented

in the different

:8 u "' o
c "

111 C

Sign Elevations These are elevation drawings of selected sign types in the program (lD=ldentification):

..... "'

o u c

s c





A3 Station arrivallD

A4 Location ID


" ~

'" c " "' c

i;II) C C


"' c::

A6 WindowlD A9 Egressstair ID A10 Restroom ID All Amenity10 / \

/ \

\ /

\ Bl Directional

/ B4 Directional B5 Directional

B2 Directional


sign type





remarks Directional

reference See Al.962

82 C5 A2.2 Cl 82 83

105 106 107 108 109 110

Sl-Pl Sl-Pl


Exit to Water Street Passenger Pick-up Area (Regulator Message TBD)

"o;,~~h~a;r;;~'iima~'nT .,"',

Sign-message Schedule
To the left is an excerpt of the sign-message schedule.

Small entrance ID
Overhead wall mount



It shows several records in a



Bridgeport Bus Station Connector Entrance (Station Open Hours Message TBD)

database format. These are the headings and descriptions of the data fields used to record information: sign type (reference code of actual sign type), number (actual sign location), side/panel (side or panel with message), messages (actual sign text), remarks (sign type and mounting information), and reference (page number in drawing package of sign


_~!,~~~_~~ .~~"~_~.I.~!~~_~._ See Al.962 ... _..,.._

Screen printed


Exit to Water Street Passenger Pick-up Area Ticketing/Information Waiting Hall Elevator to Train & Ferry Exit to Water Street Stair to Train & Ferry (Regulatory Message TBD)

O:,:erheadwaii;;Tc;C;;;i···'·········,·,', ..····,'
overhead ceiling mount






C5 A7



.~~~~~~.~~,~~ . Wollmount





(Room numberTBD) (Identification Message TBD) [Braille)

See At.962

Sign-location Plan
Below is the ground-floor of the bus terminal. plan Each sign

type and number is noted in a box, and a line connects that box to the sign's location on the plan.


Children's Hospital Boston, Wayfinding with Districts and Connectors

The experienced wayfinding designer plans the sequence messages find the of signs in a space and crafts understandable for these signs so that visitors destinations

can successfully

they are seeking. This case study shows on key sign types in the medical center.
RntThre. Connector Roo..

how the messages are displayed


~ u

signage program for a complex academic The system for Children's wayfinding principal strategy hospital buildings Hospital that designates

Boston is based on a the five interconnected districts and to link

o .... e ro

as color-coded information

o u .~

'E E e

employs their three lower floors as connectors all these buildings. hierarchically Wayfinding (districts) (admitting, (meeting as follows:

is organized

The Hospital Buildings

The diagram above shows the five principal hospital buildings, the number of

• The five buildings • Secondary

Coding the Buildings

The system of symbols, names, and colors that are used to code the different buildings depicted in the hospital is below.

• Primary destinations destinations

blood donor) rooms, exam rooms)

floors, the color codes, and the three lower floors that function as connectors.

• Public services (restrooms, • Other rooms (offices)

telephones) to hold a different

Each sign type has been designed


E oJ>

category of message in specific places. This flow of information on signs will help to guide people's wayfinding process into stages: First, direct people along the connectors to one of the districts; directions to the primary the districts, all destinations plaques.
"Lobby/Exit" for Exit to street

Hat = Hunnewell

= Red


c: ;;: >-

.: "0
c: c:

.. ~ I Fish
, I

= Fegan = Teal

concurrently, directories on that

provide Within to Finally,


destinations. signs pointing


provide elevator

to upper-


floor destinations mark the individual

and directional within the district

.s c:



.it I Boat = Bader = Green


rooms with a system of identification

= Main = Purple

Overhead Directional Signs

To Bader elevators Floor level To main elevators To Farley/ Pavilion elevators To Fegan elevators To Hunnewell elevators The three connector floors of the hospital have overhead directional signs that guide people to individual buildings and their elevators as well as to primary destinations and services. On the connector, signs help patients, Teal background color informs that "Outpatient Blood Drawing" is in Fegan All service symbols are on silver background color families, staff, and other visitors navigate the horizontal connectors of the hospital.


Floor level

Building name


Wall-mounted Directionals
Throughout Elevator symbol the hospital at and decision major intersections directional

points, there are wall-mounted signs that list and building names, primary and secondary destinations, public services. The name of the building where the sign

-+ AsClnSOtll d, FarfIYV Pavilion FarlayJPavlllon Elovatoll

Outpatlant Cardiology Progra ...
Progt,mal de C,rdlologl. Ambul.torfe

is located appears at the top along with its symbol and floor number.

Cardiac Calbarizatlon Lab

Laboratorio d, Clttllr'.mo


-+ Alc,nlorll d,EI.. alora Hunnawall Hunnewell g:~~!lr.'k,~~:.d~II~I:PII' v

Alclnlor .. Princlpl'"

Epllapsy and Clinical Nauraphyalology


-+ Alc,nlorll d.alora Bada, EI.. a,d,r


Brldgato Brigham &

0=__ =.-. 0=__ =.0=__ =.......... . -....

0 .................. 0 __ ......

...,_.......... o=--_

Fegan Elevator

Elevator Directories
Once they arrive at a desired elevator bank, visitors consult the elevator directory to locate

0=::;" ___



the level they need. When they reach that floor, the secondary wall directionals will lead them to their final destination.

& Women'.



.. o=-_ -.. _ .. =--- ~..:..

..,_ ...,_

_._ -_

.. .-...I,;

.. c-... .....

Building abbreviation

Room number

SA 605

BA= Bader Braille

Room-identification Plaques
The top portion of all room plaques is color coded according to the building's designated color and indicates the name of the department

FA 605
.... PV 605 FE 605 HU 605 MA 605

FA= Farley

PV= Pavilion

or room number in Braille. The two-letter abbreviation is a special code that refers

FE= Fegan

to the building where the sign is located. Royal blue is the

Dr. M. Heveran
HU= Hunnewell

standard base color for all sign plaques.

MA= Main


Children's Hospital Boston, Signage

Lobby Sign (left)
The letter G at either end of this large overhead sign in the main lobby indicate the ground-floor location. Symbols, building names, and arrows in colorcoded boxes direct visitors to

~ .., '" o _,


the actual building locations.


... '"
~ c:
c: c:


Directlonals on the Connector (below)

Overhead signs direct visitors to buildings; wall directionals found guide visitors to buildings and major destinations directional location. along the connector. A wall header indicates Farley/Pavilion the flrst-floor

o u




U'l I>I.l


"0 <0=

c: >c:

'" 3:


'" c:
'" 0:
c: c:


Overhead Sign on the Connector (above)

This simplified overhead sign displays just the building symbols and colors as well as major nearby services. A large 1 indicates the first· floor location.


Sign (right)

An overhead sign identifies the outpatient department in primary Purple

(English) and secondary (Spanish) languages. indicates the department's location in the Main building.



The programming requires answering of sign locations and messages Where are How process? In many name. specific questions:

people going? Where do they need information? can verbal signs help the wayfinding cases drafting recording a room's function

the sign message is simply a matter of or its occupant's

In others, it is a more complex matter of anticipating needs and interpreting For complicated finding strategy signs. Simplicity great shorthand In increasingly lation is a powerful populations bilingual communication requirements. situations the designer uses the waysymbols are cities, it is
Yale University building identification

as a guide to creating messages for is the best approach; for quick messaging. multicultural American Selective transto minority In truly to this the address, and school shield. The location mation on the sign and its typographic hierarchy to the message. The courthouse roorn-ldentificatlon plaque (below) is a simple interior sign stating just the room name and number and a simple regulatory information hierarchies levels of content, message. Planning sign is critical when there are several that require a number of inforgives treatment

often critical that signs be bilingual.

way to communicate

and make everyone feel welcome.


signs have to be designed side by side. To understand as illustrated

carry the two languages

process, first look at simple examples, to more complex situations ficationand directional-sign

and then move in the identi-

case studies that follow.

Identification signs are the simplest


such as for an office-identification

and most obvious QNS,

(below) in a federal courthouse, of layers of information:

sign type. The large exterior sign for a museum usually displays just the name of the institution-MoMA for example. A building University the building identification campus indicates or department sign for the Yale message),

the judge's name and title, the signs Act

federal court system to which he or she belongs, and the room name and number. Interior information must also conform to the Americans (ADA) requirements (see chapter 4.3). with Disabilities

the name of the university, name (primary

~ _"

... ~

;-b' -



Courthouse MoMA QNS site identification identification room

United States District Court


Courthouse identification


the elements of the Shea Stadium sign. The orange and E in this stadium.) for instance, into sections of a plan

blue are the team colors that appear on the sign for Gate B. (Gates range from A through Orienting communicate seating sections to the bases is an easy way to in the language of baseball: venues is often divided

Gate B falls near Third Base. Seating in large stadiums and performance odd and even seats. To further

clarify the location,

is color coded to indicate the levels of seating. The You



Are Here indicator ballpark conventions

points out the location

of Gate B. The the familiar

u '" o

signage engages fans by referencing of baseball

parks to help them find their way.


'" s


Other identification outpatient
Massachusetts General Hospital suite ID

o u


signs rely on different address for



define their content. At Massachusetts building, codes were developed the individual ten-floor HI

General Hospital's



clinics in the The names clinics are


for the different sometimes combining

quite complex, the medical spedirectory


Vl "0 <;::



cialty with the donor name.



""",_'ri~I-~ ...... .-I"_ I~


'" ~



The sixth-floor

(left) lists the clinics on that floor and cross-references them to the address codes, 6A, 6B, 6C, and so on. Bold perpendicular flag signs (above left) at each clinic's door display its address. More detailed naming and patient appears on the on pages 50-51, signs primarily or clusters of An example from College (opposite information discussed directional

"""""'H~ ........ ,.r.--,.,.,

'" a:
c: c:



glass next to the door. As


General Hospital floor directory

guide people to specific destinations destinations. Montgomery park,

An identification necessarily

sign for Shea Stadium (right) is In a large baseball

very different.

signage needs to help people find their seat among the thousands conventions in the stadium quickly. A number of that define ballpark seating determined

top) shows how a simple

Shea Stadium gate identification


exterior sign can direct vehicular buildings on campus. Pedestrian (bottom Park District destinations: locations.

traffic to different signs for the Chicago to various

right) provide directions

sign panels shaped as long arrows with here, just directions. Baltimore The area is

a symbol and message point the way to the different No strategies The wayfinding divided system for downtown

(below) has several layers of information. into several districts, a distinctive

each named and assigned A symbol is

color: The area markers for the Mount District are burgundy-colored. wayfinding system is mounted to

Vernon Cultural for the downtown the district-marker to individual transportation Simplicity

panel. The panel with directions and to other districts, to nearby publicand

divided into two sections: destinations facilities.

the blue area has directions

the green area gives directions

is the best approach to planning the appropriate

Montgomery College vehicular directional

for signs. Context often offers cues to the right method, and with some reflection, cal strategies understandable solution logiclear and usually presents itself. For complex environments, provide a guide to designing

messages when the task of wayfinding

~ ~

Fieldhouse Conservatory

: :

rvllnlature Athletic

Coif Hclds

seems overwhelming.


l' West Side

Center Plaza

t- Baltimore Arena
Convention Center Hopkins Plaza Inner Harbor Mechanic Theatre

l' G Light Rail 3 Blocks t- CJ) Metro 1 Block


Chicago Park District pedestrian





This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then befalse to any man.

Strong brands drive today's consumer economy. Companies routinely invest huge amounts of time and creative resources to develop a vocabulary that familiarizes consumers with their products and services. Branding fosters awareness, enthusiasm, loyalty, and participation. In recent years branding has also been embraced by cities, cultural organizations, and institutions not traditionally associated with this kind of marketing approach. As brand concepts become richer, complex, and more broadly applied, designers' skills and strategies require greater sophistication. Environmental graphics and wayfinding design have become powerful tools to help build or enhance both public and private brands, from universities and oil companies to civic downtowns and modern Olympiads.
LEARN ABOUT How environmental graphic systems can build brands, create identities, and establish a sense of place



Before branding strategies became ubiquitous, a memorable most marketing logotype as the Even today a logo of a corporate emphasized

mainstay of an identity-design is often the most important or product identity. for instance,

project. expression

One glance at the Coca-Cola logo, of a cold drink after a hot day. campaigns have reinforced

is enough to evoke the brown soda's fizz

and bite or the sensation Decades of advertising curvaceous

iconic images of the classic bottle and the signature graphic swash. Color conveys equally powerful and specific The rich the ring or associations. & Co. suggests imminent were so influential transcended that the Burma-Shave trademark its association with men's brushless

shaving cream and became a code word in the sign trade for an installation in sequence. of signs or messages that run

robin's egg blue of Tiffany presentation

of an engagement

some other precious object. A bag, box, or catalog in this signature automatically prospect billboard color raises the

of a luxury gift. Do It-

There was a time in the late 1990s when an ad or needed just three simple words-Just to mean Nike. The campaign of other futuristic essential that enthusiasts for Air Jordans and scores

running shoes made them seem so flocked to the bright new Nike of the chain

stores in droves, driving a rapid expansion throbbing destinations marketplaces


Environmental with wayfinding an existing graphic designers for a client's face different scenarios when they consider how to integrate project. brand strategy or identity branding

in cities across the United States and abroad. These quickly became exciting urban where fans grooved on images of their

In some cases must be applied fonts, colors, or "signature"

heroes while trying on the latest sportswear. Consumers in a simpler era needed only a painted sign on the side of a barn describing to prompt a visit to the country Pouch tobacco. of Burma-Shave white-on-red Families traveling their favorite brand the store for a tin of Mail by car through

to a new sign program. The client provides guidelines for using an existing symbols, brand elements, logo, verbiage, and any other proprietary and the designer

must determine to apply these to for adjustments or three-

United States in the 1930s enjoyed the "experience" signs along their route. These familiar as a procession of signs were installed

when and where it is appropriate or substitutions. dimensional

signage and make recommendations layout schemes are not suitable applications, argue for changes or additions

If certain messages, fonts, colors, or for large-scale the designer may need to to the brand strategy

four, five, or six messages. One would appear, then another, playfully was rough/His leading to the punch line: "His cheek now she won't/ These campaigns chick vamoosed/And

Come home to roost/Burma-Shave."

and palette to keep signage in compliance.


in other cases the designer creates a new brand identity in tandem with a new wayfinding situation elements program.

Apple Stores





because it ensures

that all branding

will be coordinated rebranding


Architecture and attitude express the brand Since they first opened in 2001, Apple stores have
become a remarkable enduring products: large-scale popularity and entertainment phenomenon, of the company's products. contributing to the line of computer Featuring a without

signage and allows the designer to create a more holis-


brand experience.


process usually management,

involves a more diverse client team than a discrete signage-design marketing,


The stores mirror the

project would, including facilities,

smart, elegant,

and user friendly.

and communications design.


in addiand while

Apple logo simply placed at the center of the present a high-



to people representing


facade, the stores boldly announce themselves words. inside, the neutral white interiors tech gallery setting for a product message and the medium. support Shoppers




broader involvement,

harder and more expensive more widely adopted

to manage, can result in a as well as a more

line that is both the can seek technical designed


'" c::

brand strategy

coherent and unified public image. in either case the designer should think of the merger of way finding and branding placemaking. usually starts Though building as environmental for a place or newly of a place an identity

at the Genius Bar or consult with a Creative at but the overall effect is one of effortless



'" c

the Studio for help. Each gesture is carefully and executed, simplicity and minimalism.



a logo, either preexisting wayfinding branding

minted, a complete more substance. folds


program offers much forms, and programs and not


in messages,

shapes, materials, wayfinding

media as well as human factors like staff presence or 'iii <II o -c




only define a space but also make coherent for customers or visitors.

it appealing


'" 3:



The case studies that follow show how effective ronmental establishing graphics can be in supporting these strategies chapters in a sense of place. Representing envia brand and a variety of mem-

clients and settings,

also demonstrate

how a place or experience orable. While subsequent explain specific wayfinding

can be made uniquely


section will in greater

design elements

detail, these studies show how all the parts fit together.


The oil company with a different voice
BP is the world's second-largest business of drilling company in the in the United States. business, identity the that for oil, refining it, and selling it in the oil-and-gas of the environment, and one of the largest gas retailers Though still primarily highlights its support

(RED) Campaign
Global branding for a cause celebre
An offshoot Americans colleagues. logo-used of the ONE Campaign that hopes to unite "to help make poverty history," Product red-color to attract policies, of rock star Bono and his partners on their products

(RED) is the brainchild

The purpose of the licensed, by corporate

company has created a complementary

alternative greenvalues BP also

in exchange for 50 percent of the profits-is consumer attention (RED) is intentionally included While ONE focuses on influencing long-term

energy sources, and green living. This notion of branding with a conscience and-yellow public-relations and sustainability. stations "green" commissioned aluminum, certification starts with the logo-a sunflower-and extends to the company's

and dollars to African AIDS victims. a quicker fix with huge publicity Express, Apple Computer, advertising, products, and

message about environmental company advertising.

value. In a matter of months, the list of partners Gap, American permeating and Emporio Armani. People began to see (RED) everywhere, events, such as a free concert in London's Trafalgar Square celebrating a new Motorola phone product.

These colors pervade the gas

and dominate

the design of Helios House, a striking, for LEED

gas station in Los Angeles made of recycled the first ever to be to be submitted in the United States (see chapter 3.6).



Yale University
Campus wayfinding and brand expression
Yale University relies on simple yet powerful graphic Yale devices to express its prestigous brand. So-called

Downtown Brooklyn
Pedestrian wayfinding and borough branding
Brooklyn used to be one of the largest cities in the a remarkable transformation in the The by United States. Now part of New York City, the borough has undergone old Brooklyn residential called past decade since its downtown was a commercial neighborhoods. was revitalized. center surrounded destination, business more pedestrian

Blue is one of these tools, the family of coats of arms is another, and, of course, the famous name itself. As part of a campaign Matthew :.;<

to unify all university

communications, with several developed take

Carter created a typeface including The wayfinding further

Today, Downtown intermix


c: E



one for signage applications program, supports the image of

is coming to be known as a significant where some twelve neighborhoods and commerce. The Downtown wayfinding directly program

"Yale Street."


to welcome visitors, on Collegiate branding



u to

prestige. The signpost Yale's important

design is a contemporary

unites these neighborhoods of Downtown


Gothic, the architectural buildings.

style of many of and shield. tool through a

into a cohesive and walkable the identity logotype,

urban center while Brooklyn. bent useful

to bIl

Sign panels present the main

also enhancing



devices: name, color, typeface, institutional campus. identity,


A cheeky abbreviated directions,

an idiosyncratic color palette,


In this case wayfinding that reinforces welcoming more accessible environment,

becomes a multipurpose and fosters goodwill

and folded sign profile, a striking and informative

presents a more

maps express the brand.

c: 'iii



Cl bIl

c: ;;: >-





The Design Strategist

Branding is all about the ability of an enterprise to successfully deliver on promises made to the public, whether they come in the form of a guarantee of a high-quality product or a first-class education. The best branding programs take advantage of every opportunity to identify the enterprise represented and articulate its core values, mission, and offerings. That's why branding today is a multidisciplinary pursuit that goes much deeper than just creating an effective logotype and a memorable tag line. Effective branding addresses all aspects of corporate or institutional culture, including the public face presented by staff and their working environment. How does wayfinding relate to branding? As a design strategist, Ihelp institutions communicate with constituents who come to their campus or facility by developing comprehensive visitor-service programs. These clients need to understand that anything visitors experience or encounter should express their brand. For instance, a website is a particularly important branding tool because it helps people form an impression about a place before they actually visit it. When they approach the site, graphic prompts and other signals can confirm that they've actually arrived. Coordinated symbols, colors, names, signage, architecture, and landscaping together reinforce the institutional identity and express a specific sense of place, of being somewhere in particular. The practice of branding an environment to feel distinctive is also known as placemaking. Just as the discipline of branding supplanted identity design some time ago, experience design is the next important professional specialization that has evolved to help enterprises differentiate themselves. Apple's popular iPod and iPhone are good examples of experience design because they invite the user to listen, communicate, and interact with them. This concept applies to wayfinding because environments and signage must be designed with the user in mind, otherwise the visitor experience is just about getting lostl Some institutions, particularly universities and hospitals here in the east, are a little reticent about embracing contemporary strategies such as branding and experience design, but most appreciate the need to emulate practices that are standard in the commercial world. Cultural venues are way ahead ofthe curve-a perfect example is the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian (left), where everything a visitor encounters is appropriate and coordinated, from the native food served in the cafeteria to the stone selected for the building. Anyenterprise that pays careful attention to every detail ofthe customer experience will have visitors who are happier, and who have better first and last impressions. Today,that matters.
Sylvia Harris, an expert In publtc-tnterest branding and Information design,

Is well-known for her leadership of the 2000 Census redesign and cornmunications strategies for NewYork.Presbyterlan Hospital, the American Civil Uberties Union, and Columbia University.



A letter has no fixed shape, it does not even have a skeleton shape, it has identity, and this exists in the mind.

Looking at the evolution of environmental graphic design over the past four decades, it becomes obvious that great typography dominates many successful projects. The monumental sign for the Talleyrand Office Park is iconic, the simplest and boldest of typographic statements. Equally dramatic is the innovative facade of the Lucent Technologies Center for Arts Education at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center-the transformation of a conventional early-twentiethcentury school building into one gigantic mural of text. Signage for the Berlin subway system, also beautiful and memorable, presents complex transit information with precise, elegant clarity.
LEARN ABOUT ? The elements of good typography • 74 for wayfinding

What makes these environmental ing? Just the choice of typeface, preted in context, fact, all of these considerations the foundation statement,


so appealIn

or also how it is intercome into play. The excellence-

scale, color, form, or materials?

designer who strives for typographic can elevate otherwise something ly associated difference

of a classic graphic design educationmundane signing into an iconic instantly recognizable and close-

with a specific place. Carefulletterform typography can make all the or

Egyptian hieroglyphics

design and expressive between one. an outstanding


a mediocre solution

The designer's punctuation depending

basic typographic

tool kit consists and necessary

of twenty- six letterforms,

ten numbers,

in English, accent marks and characters on the language. A skilled typographertypesetter-weaves all

today the term refers to a designer who works with type rather than an independent these elements process involving a place more accessible. into a tapestry typeface of messages that make letterform scaling,

He or she follows a multistep selection,

and panel layout. Excelling at type layout for signage requires the ability to prioritize hierarchies based on time-tested Experience and training a good eye for proportion information into logical
Roman inscription

rules of typography. letterforms or

help build these skills, but does not hurt.

having an innate talent for evaluating



that land-

The earliest evidence of way finding design survives today in the form of architectural identify buildings and monuments marks or destinations. forms, pictographs, a journey through produced religious teachings. used hieroglyphics inscriptions as important

The legacy of carved letterand imagery is a story unto itself, were

time and space. These "signs" The ancient Egyptian

by artisans to communicate

civic messages or ruling classes

Mayan glyphs

to celebrate the accomplishments During the classical of our alphaand of public buildings

of royalty and their dynasties. bet, still visible on thousands monuments. clear-an indelible

of conquest

and power on their temples and stelae language and number system. In on tombs inside Gothic cathedrals tracery of the architecture calligraphy of the monks in the Middle Ages.

period, Romans created the forerunner A Roman inscription mark intended

using a unique written Europe, the lettering complements recording

is bold, strong, and to rally the subjects narratives

the detailed

and mirrors the curvilinear sacred knowledge

of a vast empire. Likewise,

Mayans illustrated



type was often integrated the building intended fabric. Names for permanence


were either inscribed into metalwork decorative exteriors lettering buildings,


onto facades or incorporated and other on This the detailing

and interiors. complemented


style of the often with powerful results. sprawled directional Sign

and extraordinary century, facilities

By the late twentieth rapidly and demand for comprehensive increasingly systems grew. Visitors required

sophisticated ever

graphic Signals and prompts to find their way through larger and more complex By the nineteenth

century, with the rise of the era in Europe and North for The teeming midand civic signs competed

public spaces. Today, cities, corporations, or transportation and directly, distinguishes programs to communicate

public events, clearly



modern capitalist attention


systems not only need wayfinding public information


America, commercial

c: " .... "" 3:



in the public landscape.

but also to express a brand image that them from the competition. options are limitless, Signage but excit-

demands may have become more complicated, now typographic century urban streetscape American signs plastered of New York and other large catalog of offering ing creative opportunities. cities became an extraordinary within. for wayfinding

This chapter guides the typefaces

designer through the process of selecting

signage and using them successfully.

across the facades of buildings Their letterforms letterers drew instead commercial

advertisi ng the enterprises were rarely uniform;

them from scratch to reflect the style of the decade and tastes of the owner, often forcing the designs to fit a given space. Though this typographic may seem a visual feast to today's considered cantile society run amok. During the first half of the twentieth corporate buildings moguls commissioned and architects century, when tall increasingly cacophony it was audience,

an eyesore at the time, the sign of a mer-

shaped early skyscrapers,

The beginning of the design process is the time to expand select the appropriate It is difficult typeface to imaglore type families

to suit a specific site and context.

ine today that in the 1960s and '70s a single typeface, Helvetica, was used almost exclusively systems. Classically relied on a vocabulary typefaces. and social perspectives, fonts now numbering for most sign otherwise trained graphic designers


of about a dozen "acceptable" of cultural loaded With type eye to and personal computers

Evolving tastes, the broadening

with digital type soon changed everything. in the thousands,

Apex New Hoefler

the wayfinding

designer has to develop an even more discerning balance issues of form versus function. Typefaces have specific personalities certain associations: selecting a typeface, appears crisp and modern; Ziggurat the designer

and suggest Meta When

Bembo seems traditional; is playful.

must consider how board, or on The the


it will be used: Will it appear on a carved inscription, as dimensional through letters, on an illuminated a map? Will it guide drivers on a highway, students a university, designer or diners to a restaurant? instinctively understands experienced typographic


of a project and selects a and communicative.



font that is both appropriate



Highway Gothic Requiem

Bell Gothic




Via log


Individualletterforms are the basic units of the wayfinding equation. Before diving into the discussion of typography for wayfinding signage, it is useful to identify the key elements of letterforms.

Serif letterforms


Sans serif letterforms

Ascender Cap height Counter space


J:: 0n!








<:: bO

bO <::


<:: .... >-





r-=!J ~

The Type Designer

Legibility relies as much on the application of a typeface as it does on the design of the individual letters. We test our designs in a variety of situations in order to examine mechanics-consistency, color (varying tones of gray formed by the texture of the type), and fit. Legibility is certainly paramount, but it's difficult to measure Scientifically. I have yet to see a really scientific, peer-reviewed, double-blind legibility study. Almost every signage project starts with the client, often an architect, requesting an all-uppercase solution, as if capital letters are somehow sturdier or saferl The reality is that lowercase letters are essential for text readability because they produce more distinctive word shapes, which is especially important in signage, where environmental factors come into play. For instance, an upper- and lowercase highway sign can often be read even when a bridge or other obstacle obscures the top half of the line. Ilove handmade letters in part because good artisans have always understood both the micro perspective of lettering and the macroperspective of words. For the type destqner, nothing surpasses the envisioning of a holistic typographic concept for a specific situation where lettering is totally integrated with a design. Although creating a custom font for a signage program can be impractical, some projects still demand it. In the case of Radio City, the extant letters were so marvelous that building upon them was too good an opportunity to pass up. It was a true restoration project. What wayfinding designers ignore at their own peril is considering the breadth of a type family. A single sans serif may be useful for a handsome sign prototype for which you can cherry-pick the copy, but it doesn't anticipate a later need to introduce secondary text or distinguish one type of sign from another. A signage program that's mated to printed communications requires even more typographic versatility, as do less glamorous signs like elevator indicators, which designers tend to ignore. My advice in picking a typeface for wayfinding is to try to plan ahead, or better yet, pick a typeface that plans ahead.
Jonathan Hoefler, president of Hoefler & Frere·Jones, Is best known for the Hoefler Text family oftypefaces, designed for Apple. In 2002 he received the prestiqtous Prix Charles Pelgnot award from the Assoctatton Typographlque Internatlonale (ATypl).

Before designing a typeface for wayfinding purposes, we ask for two types of feedback from the client or designer who represents them. The first is emotional or psychological, such as what qualities characterize the client's organization. The second, more importantly, is technical, which addresses all the practical aspects ofthe project. For instance, indoor public spaces often need illuminated signs, and backlighting a sign can play havoc with the interior spaces of letterforms. Although many sign systems appear to use only a single font, they actually rely on subtle variations of it in order to present a unified typographic voice for different contexts and sign material choices. ourtypeface design for Radio City Music Hall was inspired by the art deco signage that is unique to this site. This historic precedent was very helpful, but the original artists never designed a full alphabet. As a response we created a font based on these handmade fragments and added punctuation, numbers, and other missing characters. The challenge was to capture the spirit of the original lettering in a contemporary, systematic typeface that meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)requirements. In the end we drew two fonts, one very narrow and the other very wide, in order to allow for words of different lengths to be set on signs of a given size. A well-designed typographic system lets the font do the heavy lifting: any need for manual intervention points to a problem with the font itself. Letterspacing was more of an art thirty years ago, when the alphabets used by designers existed solely as physical artifacts that had to be carefully applied to specific media, such as photostats pasted on cardboard or letters mounted on walls. Contemporary fonts must be meticulously designed if they are to reproduce this level of craftsmanship without active involvement from a designer. Kerning is a good case in potnt. we take pride in figuring out every possible letter combination in advance, even obscure pairs, like y and q, to make sure they will mesh properly. This can add up to an extraordinary number of possible combinations: 676 for capital letters alone, and then caps to lowercase, lowercase to lowercase, and even the spacing between punctuation marks.



CATEGORIES OF TYPEFACES The inventory of typefaces is now so large that it is difficult to even categorize all the fonts available. The most basic differentiation is serif versus sans serif letterforms. Serif extensions at the end of a stroke are the legacy of the chisel mark and the swash of the calligraphic brush. Sans serif letterforms, which have unembellished stroke endings, matured in the early modern era in reaction to traditional styles. Slab serif fonts are a subset of serif types distinguished by bold, geometric endings on the letterforms-an evolution of popular nineteenth-century letterforms. Script typefaces mimic hand-drawn cursive letters. Decorative letterforms are self- consciously illustrative or eclectic.




Sans Serif
Slab Serif
r n 1f...D_~t I"·_'I1I..... P_._. ...... .


Snell Roundhand


Legibility Issues
Because sign age must often be read at a distance by c:: pedestrians walking quickly legibility is

::Eltgfi~x~lj"e iytlt



or passengers in moving cars, letterform wayfinding important letterforms

o '"



critical to the success of a program. Two characteristics of affect the legibility

I:.OW::=X~:_:eTg _t-·-==::::=::::::=:=~::




b ·b



of messages: the height of the lowercase letterforms, or x-height, and the openness of the voids inside the letters, or counter spaces.

Open counter space


Tight counter space

Via log

Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance

The ADA defines parameters for selecting typefaces to ensure that they are readable for people with compromised vision. The ADA regulations require letters and numbers on signs to have a width-to-height ratio between 3:5 and 1:1 and a stroke width-to-height between 1:10 and 1:5. ratio width hI



__ __~ __ . _.. ~,~

'-"'9""--0" ..... ........' ..." ...._ .~.




_ '"'' ,~... ",_=t:". . _,y"U"y, .. """~"" ",~2_. _,_~

The Numerals
There are two basic kinds of numerals: aligning and old style. Aligning numbers are the norm, but old-style figures can add a lyrical quality to a design as the numbers move above and below the x-height datum lines. Both serif and sans serif fonts sometimes variations. offer these Old-style: Garamond, Old Style Old-style: Scala Sans Aligning: Jenson

···1···· ···_··-2······-3-·/I·-S····_L_··Z···-g-n-o··


Choosing a Versatile Type Family

Examine a type family to see how much variation it offers in terms of slant, weight, and width. This is particularly important for wayfinding sign age, where messages often appear in different settings and scales. Univers is a good example of a welldesigned typeface that offers many different contemporary variations fitting individual font Knockout weights and letter types. The is just that; countless subtle of stroke weight and width make it perfect for a type message into place or setting. a particular

55 Roman 65 Bold

75 Black 55 Oblique 57 Condensed 53 Extended


Certain faces, such as Cas lon, have a short lowercase xheight and offer small caps and old-style numerals, making them excellent choices for designs that need a classical or traditional look.







--' -0

'" >'"
r::: 12" and up

'" >-g_
'" ~ o


Establishing lettering

tHe correct scale and arrangement

of design.

for messages is key to good wayfinding

The designer's 'iii CII o


goal is to make a sign system legib e and a series of messages Having selected or chaotic.

flexible enough to accommodate without looking confusing a ypeface, th


designer must then deside its size

r::: ;;:: >-

'" 3:

4-5" minimum

understand environment. for narrative

the relative sizes of letterforms driving,

and and kiosks or

how they are used: reading, walking, used for text and captions paragraphs letters are of a size suitable that guide pedestrians

Reading letters are small enough to be on orlentatlon-rnap on interpretive for directional signs. Walking messages

on city streets or in interior or information. for from distance

public spaces. Driving letters are large enough to be

2-3" minimum

seen by drivers looking for directions Several factors affecting vehicular signage, such as the viewer's

1/2" Letters appear at 50 percent of actual size

these scale decisions

the sign and driving speed, must be studied during the design process. Environment are superscaled streetscapes for maximum or on highways.

and tested


effect in busy urban


Line Length and Type Size

The line length of messages can also Influence type size. For directional signs on a university campus or an urban wayflndlng program, the designer can Inventory all of the destination names and determine how the names will work on the signs, what line breaks are necessary, and where messages will need to be abbreviated. lettering This process for sign scale. helps to establish what size Is appropriate panels of a particular

Greenleaf Hall

longest message

~niversity Art Museum

Smith Campus Center

Letter Spacing or rracklng __




Type with Symbols

and Arrows
Typographic messages either a or an arrow signage. It is good between often incorporate symbol modifier for wayfinding important

to establish

scale relationships

these elements to ensure that the graphic mark and type read as a seamless unit and convey

Line Spacing or Leading

Careful line spacing, or distance between lines, ensures that a series of messages can be easily read and understood without wasting or compromising important appropriately, space. It is particularly in to group text

~. _C_enter __ ~__Mint Museum of .

~ .. raft & Design __C


the intended


a narrow stack of names. In this case two-line names are tightly line spaced (A) while the spaces between names (B) are just generous enough to differentiate entries without making the overall list too long.

~_.Main Library
,B_Johnson & Wales A_Uniyersity

111:lEVATO .:sl-'m--R' EST R ~--'_,-,


Looking at actual examples stand the rationale is the best way to undera variety of Their typobranding for type layout on slgnage. The and audiences. context

panels shown on this spread represent venues, viewing conditions, considerations,


graphic styling takes into account legibility, and the architectural

Concert Hall Signs

These nickel-plated signs with ~; glass panels have a simple, elegant design to match the neoclassicism of the music hall. They feature centered messages set in the typeface Requiem. Hairline rules with a decorative a distinct flourish separate the messages into hierarchy. The hall sign is modified identification









Founders Box identification

by the name of the seating level in all capital letters. The gallery directory lists seating and services found on each level. The Founders Box
<:: bIl


plaque provides


a large box number and, more modestly, the donor's name in italics. Hall identification Gallery directory


bIl <:: -0 <::

'" ~


University Signs
This example shows two sign types within one wayfinding particular system. The blue color and the standards. The layout of the sign is

Univers typeface are both the university typographic

building identification

simple: the building name is flush left, with the university symbol in the lower right. The vehicular directional sign, scaled appropriately for drivers, guides visitors to major destinations. provide directions of destinations. Arrows to clusters Building identification and L-shaped rules, or lines,


Park Signs
These signs belong to a city- park sign system. Color banding and material changes differentiate fordifferent identification the backgrounds messages set in On the sign the park The bottom

the Whitney typeface. name is prominent. of information:

band presents four types symbols for available services, an advisory about closing time, city and park-system logotypes, and the slogan. The directional signs are similarly banded: The top displays an icon to indicate the audience, either pedestrians destination or drivers, and information with an Park identification Pedestrian directional Vehicular directional the main panel area shows accompanying symbol-green

symbols for parking and blue symbols for all others. Each bottom band reinforces the park brand or identity.

Stadium Signs
These sign panels, part ofa large wayfinding with information, program for including to the a baseball stadium, are dense levels, numbered seating, and amenities. Appropriate ballpark setting, they also display team branding and sponsorship identification. is a matrix Stair directory The stair directory

that cues a level name to seating sections and amenities found there. A color highlight and a baseball signal You Are Here. The rarnp-directional sign indicates the level and amenities ahead plus the way to the exit. The level· directional amenities. sign highlights seating sections and

~,~,,~:~,~,E 201-238 ~"L,:~,B"LE~~~339 ~~~.~"E"N:~1~538


Ramp directional

Level directional


3.3 ,:~o


IU< "'~""Y

color deceives continually.





Just follow the Yellow Brick Road and you'll get to Emerald City! When environmental graphic design was an emerging discipline, the wayfinding strategy usually sold to hospitals was only slightly more sophisticated than the road so familiar to fans of The Wizard of Oz. In those days hospitals delineated colored paths on the floors of medical centers to define important routes around their facility. Just as the wizard proved to be unimpressive, the color-coded pathways proved inadequate over time, even misleading, as a solution to the daunting challenge of hospital wayfinding. To produce effective wayfinding solutions, designers must understand how to work with color on a case-by-case basis rather than relying on formulas. This chapter is not a primer about color theory or systems; it simply addresses essential information about using color as a wayfinding tool.
Using color as a powerful wayfinding tool

Colors are a fundamental greatly influence almost impossible designers part of everyday life and is withways for
Switzerland Denmark

our experience

of the world-it

to imagine visual perception evocative

out them. Because people closely identify exploit them in powerful,

with colors,

all kinds of problem solving and often choose color as the central organizing program. through, Although to different element of a wayfinding design Colors can help people identify, and even connect emotionally the latter idea seems abstract, people, depending navigate it is importhings or

to a place.

tant to realize that colors can mean different demographics.

on circumstances

St. George

American Red Cross

Nature is the source of some of our most primal relationships throughout associations: suggests with

More recently, color has come to be associated closely with politics. Americans mostly conservative) In the past few election and blue (Democratic, cycles, mostly allehave heard a lot about red states (Republican, sums up political


Specific colors found

the natural world have obvious symbolic bright red, the color of fire and lava, cold. Although there are association. heat, while a pure light blue, the color of and interpretations of red and blue,

ilberal). This color shorthand Since the early twentieth Communist movement affiliation. dedicated

ice or a clear sky, suggests infinite variations temperature

giances and rallies people, but it can also be divisive. century, red has denoted While an actual Green political to environmental awareness and

is an obvious and universal

party now exists, the term also stands for a global climate concern. Color changes can also mark the passage of time. In the North American lishers and retailers marketplace, greeting card pubDay (red (green and roll out a color calendar in sync St. Patrick's Day (green),

with seasons and holidays such as Valentine's and pink), Easter (pastels), Halloween Colors also signal cultural or patriotic nationalism. can change The red, the In the case of flags, minor layout variations what a color or color combination United States, for instance, represents. red). Lighting designers The landmark's (black and orange), and Christmas

for the Empire State Building into the urban sky. beacon holidays 2008 early in engineers to roadways.

have taken this concept even further,

elegant spire is an eye-catching

white, and blue of our Stars and Stripes symbolize

that glows with iconic colors to celebrate and special events-everything (lavender) Super Bowl victory the twentieth developed (sapphire

but in the context of the ally. Depending Canada,

from Gay Pride Day blue). for wayfinding

Union Jack, these colors stand for the United Kingdom, our former ruler and now longtime Switzerland, complicated, on the flag layout, red and white can identify minor layout modifications

to the New York Giants' spectacular

Colors became fundamental a standardized

or Denmark. To make matters more of the Swiss

century when American traffic color-signal


red cross on a white field turns it either into the flag of St. George, representing arrival of humanitarian England, or a signal for the and medical aid.

impose order on increasingly The basic palette,

chaotic vehicular

green (go), yellow (caution/yield),

and red (stop), is now used around the world for traffic


lights. Universally understood and applied, these color standards form the basis for the American traffic signage system, defined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and influence safety by instantly conveying vital information to pedestrians and drivers alike.

Yellow Primary

Green Secondary

Or.nge Secondary



Blue Green Tertiary

O,.nge Red Tertiary


~ o

Purple Secondary

The Spectrum
In this color spectrum, the solid triangle points to the

COLOR TECHNOLOGY While color meaning informs wayfinding, it is essential for designers to have a working knowledge of color mechanics beyond the basics. Everyone is familiar with the classic rainbow spectrum defined by Sir Isaac Newton-red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet-and that pairs of primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) produce secondary colors (purple, green, and orange), while all three primaries together make black. In the case of projected rather than reflected light, the primary color palette changes to red, green, and blue. Overlapping these three primaries results in either natural or synthesized white light. Colors are also distinguished by three properties: hue, intensity, and value. Hue refers to color variation, such as pure redness or greenness. Intensity is the saturation or density of a color. Value refers to its relative lightness or darkness. Understanding these properties enables the designer to control a palette for legibility and to project the desired meaning. For instance, when assembling an appropriate set of colors for coding purposes, it is helpful to pick colors of similar value so they fit together well as a set. Color intensity affects legibility: on a sign, contrasting intensities differentiate between the type and panel colors, as in any figure/field relationship. Hue selection usually

three primary colors, and the dashed one marks the secondary colors.

Color Values


The three colors of the top sign are of similar value and work well together as a color set. White type sits


and legibly on

all three. The bottom set of three is not as successful. First, the overlay type does not read equally well on all three colors; second, the darker top band dominates the panel design.







These examples show the irnpact of color intensity on legibility and contrast. The most legible examples are those where there is more variation the intensity of the two colors between text and background. in


affects a design's overall appropriateness for a given context-it function preferred is important choose colors that best represent will be able to fluidly manipulate results. matter, designers industry As a practical with lighting computer software

and meaning or site's


and sophisticated

color selection

software. colors

that a designer a building

The Pantone Matching on the computer, wayfinding organized

System (PMS) is the most pertool for identifying

vasive and comprehensive designers

and context. A designer familiar with these color and achieve the must be conversant color standards, and present, test, and

for print, and for other media. Most are familiar with PMS numbers, It is also possible window to can creating lighter of CMYK color-spectrum (digitally

by hue, value, and intensity.

to use the computer's be further


choose special spot colors. These color selections altered by tinting shades or tones) or by changing proportions

in order to identify,

specify exact colors for signage and other applications. The computer offers amazing ways to explore the riches such as instant access to color swatch of the spectrum,

(cyan, magenta, yellow, black) process colors.


How does a designer choose a single color when faced with all these choices? First, narrow down hue combinations important essential that are appropriate context. contrast for the architectural both a site: and for or environmental criteria: Next, consider two other and legibility, Generally signs

for successful


must be highly visible to people approaching the lettering typographic and legibility. recommends and field must contrast treatment

the panels should be apparent from a distance, sufficiently the message to be read easily. Assuming of color combinations

a message's contrast Act Having

Daytime and nightime views of an illuminated sign

is sound, careful consideration will ensure appropriate with Disabilities backgrounds.

The Americans

that there be a 70 percent contrast the designer needs to understand different materials and surfaces, the characteristics whether of designs, the designer moves to on site. glass, plastic, surface


between type and sign-panel developed conceptual

o u

real space, creating mockups and color studies to check the color's functionality Light conditions perception. site? Is it the brilliant have a major impact on color sunshine of the Southwest or the

metal, or recycled paper. All have specific color ranges, and often the richest color palette combines material and paint finishes in a distinctive computer, application way.

·iii cu

What is the average day like at the project The sunny

Once colors have been selected or created on the it is necessary to specify them for actual to signage. One method is to find a match is to refer paint of PPG, paint-matchlng systems like Benjamin large all-purpose that are widely most

cloudy gray light of the rainy Northwest?


haze of an August day in New York casts quite different light than the sunshine on a clear, crisp day in San Francisco. Artificial are additional interior and nighttime conditions illumination conditions llght-source to consider. Again, colors will look and qualities, but

using the PMS color swatch book. Another to commercial companies available. commonly Moore and Sherwin- Williams, Matthews



-c c >-

with vast color libraries


research and testing in actual or equivalent is essential to assess how proposed work. Material selection because surfaces have different also because certain lighting

Paint Company, a division

and AkzoNobel paint libraries for specification especially

are the paint manufacturers are identified purposes.

also comes into play, not only reflection conditions can damage the

used for signage. The colors in each of these by a unique number system There are also specialized Imron line, which offers paints

colored surfaces of sign panels. Harsh bright sunlight with strong UV rays can cause certain colors, like red and black, to fade more quickly. An internally sign looks very different glowing the day. Specifying about selecting surface: varieties color for fabrication purposes is not just to cover a paints or other substances panels, than when it is reflecting illuminated at night, with translucent light during

paint systems such as DuPont's for special outdoor applications. The designer must guarantee presented, problems, tested, and approved

durable and glossy autornotlve-tvpe

that a color specified, by the client will be

the actual color that appears on final signs. To avoid any it is essential to get chips and color samples to ensure a perfect match. system's fabrication purposes. phase from the sign fabricator


are often chosen for their own unique These days, with countless to choose from (see chapter 3.5),

These samples should then be archived to serve as color control during a wayfinding and, later, for maintenance

color and surface qualities. of materials


Materials dictated specified for signage vary enormously and offer limitless color effects. ihe choices are usually integrity. Metals are and in white and

by the setting.

The natural colors of stone specified materials

and wood have a fundamental among the most commonly metals, including stainless

their natural form fall into two broad families: steel, aluminum,

nickel; and yellow metals, such as brass and bronze. Finishing techniques aluminum Manmade materials for materials like anodizing broadens the color range even further. such as plastics offer unlimited
Painted wall in a medical center serves as area identification

color ranges (see chapter 3.5).



rods enliven a parking garage, transforming

it into a civic landmark

Inscribed lettering at a university Stainless steel and glass Petri dishes with colored plastic inserts for research center donor sign age

on a stone plaque

Bronze plaque for theater interior


Choosing the right colors for a wayfinding results from knowing find interesting, binations project how to balance art and science. or surprising color cornScience way·

Art is the creative spark that inspires the designer to comfortable, for memorable project. design solutions. For instance,

ensures that those colors will physically for a particular finding system often employs a cherished colors, whereas practicality color for hospitals sky's the limit-often and subways.

work together set of school

a university

and safety dictate signage In retail design the will not

the more colors, the better. Colors

that make good sense in Miami Beach probably and fast rules, and the best designers

seem right in New York City. In reality there are no hard break rules all system is a collaaway the time. Developing borative and interests, objective a complex wayfinding process. As it usually involves many players it is best to steer the conversation like red"-to With experience,


from matters of personal taste-"we matters of color function. choices, explaining the designer at successful desired effect. What are tangible The most obvious,

learns how to work with clients to arrive why color choices and the

were made, how they work in their context,

uses of color for wayfinding? path-

color coding, has advanced far floor. Today most color-coding areas within a space the organization wayfinding systems

beyond the Yellow Brick Road or those ineffective ways on the hospital strategies either define distinct

or provide a basis for understanding of a complex facility. differentiate The simplest

zones, such as the levels of a multistory colors, and symbols. how to navigate

parking garage, by using numbers, Other systems help people visualize larger or more complicated districts instance, or the buildings Downtown

spaces, such as urban in a large medical center. For pedestrian wayfinding the


system uses Signs with colored panels to identify seven districts visitors identify of the downtown their location area. These signs reinforce the You Are Here quality of a given neighborhood.

of the system, helping

Signage for JFK International and Newark International airports

and sense the boundaries


Downtown Baltimore
These color-coded identification district panels mark

the seven areas of Downtown Baltimore. They are mounted adjacent to a main directional panel that guides people to destinations.

Color coding can also designate signage system developed Jersey airports different way, somewhat



for the New York and New akin to highway signing. For

uses color fields to code messages in a related to air

example, yellow signs present directions travel, terminals,

gates, and baggage claim areas; and

green signs Signal the way to ground transportation services like taxis, rental cars, and public transit; black fields mark airport or information. Color is not only a means to simplify perception users' to guide of a place and provide prompts purely utilitarian amenities, such as restrooms

Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre

Color is used to mark the numbered entrances of the Sydney Exhibition totems with numbered color beacons point the way to the different center. halls that make up the convention and Convention Centre. Large

them where they are going, but it can also breathe life into an otherwise digltal-reproductlon is ultimately Although daunting design. Today's surface methods and sophisticated best judgment. might seem and

options offer unlimited

choices; final color selection

up to each designer's

the range of colors available at first, be confident

that careful planning

testing will help identify

ones that are exactly right.


In addition immediate aware-ness understood to their usefulness associations for wayfinding, Signature colors can also create a brand or identity. colors create have

for people and help build brand Luxury retailers Tiffany, Hermes,

and place recognition. this concept brilliantly.

and Fauchon, for example,

have elevated fairly ordinary

c: ·iii


colors-turquoise, branding

orange, and pink-to

mythic status in busy in highly


by imbuing them with their brand's cachet. Color often proves useful for wayfinding and retail designers brands or products, particularly environments, differentiate competitive companies. (National), consumers exploit color to and car- rental almost the

.: ~


;: '"


arenas such as gas stations The latter has appropriated and blue (Thrifty). identify

entire color spectrum: at an airport,

red (Avis), yellow (Hertz), green Lined up side by side colors help A strong color choice can also help create a signature identity for a public institution. The signs at Wave Hill, a small botanic garden in New York City, use a strong olive green for the sign panels. Set against the stone piers of the entry, these green signs signal arrival and make a statement landscape The striking about place. Located amidst the lush system together of the gardens, the signs recede somewhat. green ties the wayfinding for visitors.

these easily distinguished

the various rental counters quickly

from long distances.


"... 1 ....


and makes a coherent statement



employ color in four ways. For graphic systems, they may in tandem. The most a location or simply identifies

especially without

ones that code categories to effective transit

of information, For instance, pathways,

complex environmental basic color application site by associating institutional, at temporary

are fundamental to differentiate


use several of these strategies

color coding it would be nearly impossible lines, pedestrian graphically on maps and signage. a colorthat fits

it with one or more specific hues. In an existing program. corporate, and place, as of color, Colors can

or urban districts Finally, designers inspirational perfectly their journey.

some cases the colors support or civic branding

often choose colors purely for their Experiencing people and enhances


also subtly evoke a special sense oftime urban festivals. More technical

with its context uplifts

events such as Olympic Games or large applications


. The Color Expert

My work embraces the psychological word-association aspect of color percepI glean studies that reveal valueorange for years. Yet I still hear people say that orange cheapens or declasses a desiqn, and wonder what planet they're on. Just as real estate is about location, location, location, color is all about context, context, context. is likely, and appropriate to make assumptions group's color preferences color mixtures. tion and how it affects consumer through or user preferences.

how people feel about colors and their emotional what draws their attention,

tiestqners need

what does not, and why. We try to avoid all

to consider where a color will be used, what type of lighting It very dangerous precepts. about a specific cultural or ethnic based on acknowledged

As a part of my research, I show people samples of color families in order to gauge their reactions. drawing Simplistic conclusions, says that. Statements such as red says this or blue colors can range from making it

along these lines are published because

When people move to a new country or culture, they often adapt in the way they perceive color. Their sensibilities depend on socioeconomic factors, their educational level, and how recently their family immigrated. Twice a year I

the time, which is ludicrous inherent particular

pastels to dark tones. What I've learned is that people feel an sense of power when a color is darkened, shade of dark blue, whether seem more assertive and also more credible. The power of a it's used for signage from black,

meet with Italian, French, English, and Dutch citizens to discuss color trends. Although everyone comes from a different background, networking we're able to agree on a color forecast together, so there's a huge cultural as ifby and osmosis because everyone is using the web for research Design professionals strong color preferences the biggest problems to accomplish. important

or fashion, will bear more weight than a soft blue, gray blue, or mid-blue. People perceive navy blue differently and although black as the most powerful Popular reactions color of an. a sample chip people now something to the colors seem very close, they still regard to colors evolve, and brown is a perfect hear "earthy" or "dirty." Today


also have to deal with clients with or aversions. The latter is one of means that the client what the design is trying

example. At one time if you showed someone of brown, you would inevitably we have what I call the Starbucks Phenomenon: refer to brown as "rich," "robust," "aromatic,"

I encounter-it

honestly doesn't understand a design, then explaining challenges.

If you truly believe in your color choice for it becomes one of your most

do with chocolate or coffee. Years ago orange was a hard sell in this country because it was always considered fast-food color. Vogue magazine Porsche helicopter a downscale recently showed a black

with orange trim and a model with an around her, and Hermes has used

Leatrice Eiseman heads the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training and Is executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

orange ribbon wrapped


realizes his perceptions and experiences, and it is in a world of symbols that the average man lives. The symbol thus becomes a common language between artist and spectator.

In most cases the primary conveyors of wayfinding information are the words we place on signs to identify destinations or to describe the path to a place. However, symbols and maps are powerful graphic tools that support the work done by those words. Symbols communicate visually rather than verbally and to people who may not speak the native language of a place. While wayfinding symbols deliver information at a glance, maps are more complex visual images that tell stories about a place. Maps provide specific orientation diagrams to explain public places to visitors, describe the arrangement where things are located, and help people orient themselves. They are essential for the wayfinding toolbox, primarily because they can say so much so concisely.

of spaces, show

Graphics that support the verbal messages on signs



Wayfinding systems are often created for large, confusing environments. places and headed destinations. complex, and sometimes in many directions, While hundreds directions

States, symbols aid different distressed international English speakers, customers diverse populations

groups of people: the increasingly cities, and across

that inhabit American who have traveled

People may be coming from different

looking for multiple

the globe to get health care at these great institutions can all decipher the language of these symbols.

of signs may be necessary to provide a few well-chosen pictorial representation the most and of images the unnecessary.

in such environments,

symbols can eliminate

Symbols provide a shorthand icons for public bathrooms pervasive artistic public symbols. variations


The most basic role of symbols available in airports, office buildings, hospitals, is to identify shopping services malls, train stations,

of a place, a service, or an action. The man and woman are probably Regional, cultural,

and other public places either accompany

make for a wide spectrum symbols

where people gather. These symbols the verbal description communication. The set of fifty pictograms a leading professional United States Department become the standard purposes universal

for those icons, but the basic message is the same. For the purposes of this discussion, refers to these but refer iconic graphic devices. These are not to be confused with logos, which can often look like symbols instead to business entities where symbols are essential European train station, regularly pass through, the information to different locations cultures, or organizations. and effective. In a large

of the service or stand alone

to act as a beacon. In either case they strengthen developed by the AlGA, for the (DOT) has

design association, ofTransportation

There are some classic examples of public places where people of many languages symbols help guide people to directing people In or

symbol family for wayfinding in 1981. Now nearly and escalators here and abroad, they

since its completion in public facilities

booth or the food services. Symbols at the Olympics,

address everything

from restrooms

are used everywhere

sport venues and to public services. where visitors

come from many countries hospital


are the common language that speaks in the United

to everyone.

In a large teaching

_ ..... --1-~
AlGA/DOT symbols

to ferry terminals. like a stairwell

The symbols

mostly define places, such as Since area. The set

or pharmacy,

but also services,

currency exchanges or a checked-baggage also includes some prohibitions the debut of the AlGA/DOT symbols,

like No Smoking.

several additional

symbol sets have been created for areas of public