D.C. Citywide Wayfinding Program

Merit Award

The DC citywide wayfinding program is unique in that it actually became a reality after more than 25 years of failed attempts to design and implement such a system. Geared to the wayfinding needs of the city's 22 million annual tourists, this signage program is a huge success among both visitors and residents. The signs often appear in location shots on the television program "The West Wing." The wayfinding system consists of pedestrian-related directional, identification, and map signs, as well as vehicular signs that interface with local roads and highways. The wayfinding program has been adapted for use on the National Mall and for the DC Heritage Trails walking tours program.

The design blends DC's traditionalist image with a modernist approach. The cast metal star bases brand these signs as "belonging" to DC and the North arrow provides orientation to DC's complex street plan. All sign types utilize the same modular, interchangeable hardware system. The signposts are extruded hollow fiberglass with a cementitious core that allows the posts to flex up to 15 degrees off vertical and then return to vertical.

A unique constraint was added with the signs along Pennsylvania Avenue having to be bomb-proof. It seemed overly paranoid at the time, but has proved to be a wise security measure.

Jury Comments: 

"The apparent simplicity of the system is appropriate for organizing such a complexity of information. The mountings convey monumentality, and the interpretive panels look like they would be immensely helpful in making sense of the environment."

Design Firm: 

Calori & Vanden-Eynden

Client: 

Downtown DC Business Improvement District

Location City: 

Washington, DC

Project Area: 

N/A

Open Date: 

N/A

Project Budget: 

N/A

Photo Credits: 

N/A

Design Team: 

David Vanden-Eynden (Principal in Charge), David Vanden-Eynden, Chris Calori, Jordan Marcus, Sun Yang

Consultants: 

Cornelius Architectural Products, Folia Industries, Lancaster Composites

Fabricators: 

Cornelius Architectural Products

Related Links: 

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