University of Alberta Wayfinding Master Plan

Merit Award

Established in 1908, the University of Alberta celebrated its centennial anniversary in September 2008. The original campus master plan was developed in 1910 when the Montreal architectural firm Nobbs and Hyde was hired to design the campus and its buildings. Campus development was interrupted for many years due to World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, and the original architectural vision was essentially lost during the post-WWII building boom.

As part of the centennial initiative, the Campus Open Spaces Committee was formed in 2006 to develop a long-range vision emphasizing the importance of naming pathways and spaces and their locations and associations with the university.

Gottschalk + Ash International developed a comprehensive wayfinding and interpretive development concept plan that focused on identifying defined university boundaries for each campus; addressing buildings within color-coded districts; naming streets, pathways, and open spaces; highlighting existing and planned architectural and public art features; and integrating wayfinding with interpretation to tell the story of the historic and contemporary campus.

The conceptual plan is being used by the Office of the University Architect and Campus Open Spaces Committee to gather additional input and achieve a consensus among administration, faculty, alumni, students, and the community that will allow the preparation of a fully developed wayfinding and interpretive master plan (Phase 2).

Jury Comments: 

“The strength of this entry lies in the careful thought put into the wayfinding strategy. The wayfinding approach is carefully layered, distinguished by the addition of elements as the informational hierarchy unfolds. Design language strikes just the right balance between contextually correct imagery and modern adaptation. Powerful use of charcoal as a binding neutral with contrasting clear, saturated colors helps to achieve striking clarity.”

Design Firm: 

Gottschalk + Ash International, Terry Heard Designers, Verburg & Associates

Client: 

University of Alberta

Location City: 

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Project Area: 

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Open Date: 

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Project Budget: 

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Photo Credits: 

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Design Team: 

Gottschalk + Ash International
Chris Herringer (design director, wayfinding master planning, program design, art direction writing); Udo Schliemann (principal/senior graphic designer); Michael Kirlew, Jonathan Picklyk (designers)

Terry Head Designers
Terry Heard (wayfinding and interpretive master planning, program design, industrial design), Manal Chouhaiber (designer)

Verburg & Associates
Kees Verburg (interpretive planning, conceptual framework for interpretation, research, writing)

Consultants: 

CHK America (mapping review), Bob Robertson Communications (project liaison and coordination), Viewpoint (computer-generated imagery/visualization)

Fabricators: 

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