With more than 40 member institutions located on a densely developed 800-acre site, the Texas Medical Center is the world’s largest medical center. And with more than 12 miles of streets and roadways—and approximately 43,000 parking spaces in dozens of parking garages and surface lots—it presents some significant wayfinding challenges.
fd2s developed a comprehensive wayfinding strategy and master plan, then coordinated the five-year, $10 million implementation of this strategy. Implementation activities included design development for all wayfinding components, construction documentation, and supervision of all fabrication and installation, as well as development of printed and interactive wayfinding tools.
In developing the wayfinding master plan, fd2s worked closely with TMC staff, as well as with members of the TMC Ad Hoc Committee on Wayfinding. Members of this committee were briefed regularly on the status of the project, and also participated in numerous work sessions. In addition, fd2s met directly with high-level representatives of TMC member institutions, gathering information about their immediate needs and future expansion projects, and generally working to build a consensus for the concepts being developed and smoothing later efforts toward full stakeholder buy-in.
The underlying logic of the wayfinding system ties particular destinations to landmarks, which take the form of large, numbered entrance monuments. Directional elements on roadways leading to the Medical Center guide users to these landmarks, and from there more specific wayfinding signage takes them to the appropriate institution entrance.
While this wayfinding logic is effective and makes the system very easy to update and maintain, it does require that the user know which landmark is associated with their destination before they begin their journey to the Medical Center. For example, in order to find the UT Dental Clinics, the user needs to know that they will use “Holcombe Boulevard Entrance Number Two.” This prior-to-departure information is made available through a wayfinding website (accessible from computer or PDA), scripted telephone information, and a printed visitor guide.
The project scope also included addressing the Medical Center’s brand-building goals. fd2s created a new TMC positioning line, “A Community of Caring,” and developed the approach of using human faces on printed materials and planned campus identification elements to convey this message.
fd2s has recently begun work on a new assignment for TMC, updating the mapping system on the TMC website to utilize Google Maps as a base. This will offer additional functionality (such as point-to-point directions and locations of nearby amenities), while also improving accuracy and reducing the need for static hand-drawn maps.
“The sheer magnitude of the undertaking alone deserves an award for perseverance and dedication. The designers have managed to attain—and retain—a high level of 3D detail and visual consistency across an immense program. Projects of this nature are the backbone of the profession. The program involves not only the signage and wayfinding elements but deals with the entire process of check-in, information dissemination, and print and web materials.”
Steven L. Stamper (principal in charge), Lon Calvert (project manager), Herman Ellis Dyal, Curtis Roberts, Ranulfo Ponce, Leslie Wolke, Jon Freach
Neon Electric, GraphTec, Intex United