San Francisco International Terminal

Honor Award

San Francisco International Terminal Building Food and Retail Signage Program

While tenants at the International Terminal Building included top restaurants, retailers, an airport museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Store, the understated and minimal retail signage and absence of wayfinding and a marketing program led to traveler confusion, poor sales performance and tenant closures. While Mayer/Reed analyzed the problem and prepared recommendations, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred. Pre- and post-security areas thus required new graphics definitions for travelers planning meals prior to departure. The team designed new freestanding sign structures located in the main hall between ticketing and the retail concourse that incorporated new typography, color system, and mapping unique to food, retail, and traveler services. This solution was driven by several key problems. The existing overhead wayfinding system did not include and would not permit the addition of retail and food information. No work was permitted within the existing signage system. The retail and food program was not being promoted on-site and illumination levels were too low to create retail vitality. The "Restaurants from the Bay Area" theme was developed for on-site promotion. A poster design approach was inspired by SFO's large collection of art, and pop art created a high-impact quick read for travelers on the run. Humor was infused into the posters by using San Francisco landmarks as food ingredients.

Jury Comments: 

"This program is highly successful in its elegance and integration. The refined presence in the space is further enhanced by a sophisticated selection of typography and color. The special attention to detail in the unique creation of Bay Area glyphs adds depth to the overall beauty of the program. Outstanding!"

Design Firm: 



San Francisco International Airport

Location City: 

San Francisco, California

Project Area: 


Open Date: 


Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 


Design Team: 

Michael Reed (Principal in Charge), Robert Wente




Scott AG

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