Ottawa MacDonald - Master Plan

Merit Award

Planning for the Ottawa Airport wayfinding system was based on a methodical approach to scale, distribution, and placement of information and its relationship to the end user or passenger.

Flow diagrams marking passenger routes were prepared to determine decision points and destinations while considering sight lines, viewing distances, and, with road signs, traffic speed and reaction time. Plans were developed plotting the locations and schematic content for each sign. These plans were for operational and design team review of location, content, and nomenclature and established the order of magnitude for budgeting with project managers.

The programming and architecture of the Ottawa Airport present a clear functional diagram of the airport process to the visitor. Cues for orientation are inherent in the architectural design. The openness and transparency of the building reveal its organization of levels, functions, and destinations. Signage and information graphics are linked to the architecture to enhance wayfinding with guidance, confirmation, and punctuation.

The programming determined the functional nature and characteristics of the information graphics for the system. The concept presented a clear vision and theme for the system. The scale, form, illumination, color, and graphic design were considered to ensure the system integrates with architectural design while establishing its own identity as an information system to enhance passenger wayfinding.

Jury Comments: 

"A thoughtful and effective planning document. Well-conceived, researched, and articulated, this sets the framework for thoughtful design solutions based on identification of opportunity, diagnosis of architectural conditions, and forward-looking hierarchical communication recommendations. The jury responded to the mix of sound programming with aspirational and inspirational images of travel, which allowed for emotion and romance to be a consideration in travel communication and visitor needs. It presents a clear and actionable vision for the wayfinding system."

Design Firm: 

Gottschalk + Ash International


Ottawa MacDonald - Cartier International Airport Authority

Location City: 

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Project Area: 


Open Date: 


Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

William McElligott

Design Team: 

Chris Herringer (Design Director), Jamie Cheung, Ken Lynch, Jon Picklyk, Udo Schliemann, Kal Jabusch, Richard Anderson


Terry Heard Designers (Industrial Design and Planning)


Taylor Manufacturing (for Passenger Terminal Building)

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