Business software company SAP America’s new U.S. headquarters in Newtown Square, Pa., is also its first “green” building. ex;it was commissioned to create an “understated” wayfinding system for visitors and employees, including those who work on the campus and those visiting from other locations worldwide.
Wayfinding was designed to complement the open and minimal nature of the interior architecture and color-coding was chosen with the building’s neutral color palette in mind. Bold, solid wall-mounted dimensional letters A through D denote the building’s four main sectors, while contrasting outlined numbers reflect the floor. The numbering system is continued with room/workstation numbers identifying specific locations.
ex;it worked closely with the SAP brand team to ensure the program reflected the SAP brand guidelines for color, tone, voice, and typography. A family of unique symbols was designed to identify public destinations such as vending, restrooms, break-out areas, mail rooms, and supply centers.
Elevator banks are the hubs of information within the building and provide landmarks for the four zones. Orientation blades communicate the services contained within the zones and elevator blades provide upper-level information along with building orientation maps. Glass corner features were added behind the directories at elevator bank entrances to highlight information centers. Employees viewing from their desks in the building across campus can see the color pattern in vertical zones.
All wayfinding and orientation blades are painted-steel plates constructed to receive changeable snap-fitted information plates. Projecting elements were bent from steel plates and laser cut to create open forms. Sign family elements were designed within a grid inspired by the corridor office and conference room window dimensions to ensure alignment. All elements of the program are changeable for easy maintenance by SAP facilities staff.
In sync with SAP’s efforts to minimize the building’s impact on the environment, ex;it minimized material usage, designed interchangeable sign elements, and specified low-VOC paints.
ex;it also designed a family of wayfinding blades to lead employees and visitors to their destinations from other parts of the campus. Using minimal geography, the lean blades provide consistent and recognizable orientation and wayfinding at each decision point. The new building is a major addition to an existing campus, and the wayfinding system will be used in future additions as well as being phased into existing buildings.
“A rich, elegant system that is probably quite economical. Multiple contrasts, textures, and shadows.”
“In a sea of renegade and vagabond typographic expression, this program is refreshingly simple and sophisticated.”
Alan Jacobson (principal in charge, design direction), Mark Jenkinson (lead designer, project management, creative direction), Dave Schpok (planner, project management), Elizabeth Trost (programming), Keith Davis (construction detailing)