The NPS UniGuide Program

Honor Award

Although the National Park Service (NPS) greets nearly 300 million visitors a year at its 390 parks, monuments, and historic sites, their standards for signing (developed in 1966) were limited to motorist guide signs and simple identification panels. Based on eight prototypes developed for parks including Yosemite and Grand Canyon, and surveys of over 150 other parks, the design team developed a customer-oriented managed system for visitor communications in national parks. The system is designed to be adaptable to all types of facilities within the NPS and includes three primary components: consistent identification panels with structures based on historic park forms and use of indigenous materials for bases and structures; a modular grid system for motorist guide signs that incorporates NPS Rawlinson Roadway, a typeface developed as part of this program to optimize legibility for older drivers; and the visitor information system, a rugged weathered steel post and rail system allowing modular posting of one or many panels at a location, while accommodating many different types of panel media. All materials for the system are based on NPS principles of sustainable design. Program development includes human factors research studies of road sign legibility, deviations from federal highway standards, small panel information system, and effectiveness of editorial approach. A phased, seven-year implementation program is scheduled to begin in 2003.

Jury Comments: 

"Hooray for the National Park Service! Finally, an understanding of what the user needs to create signage and wayside exhibits. This manual will assure complete continuity in all forms of communication at the parks. Clearly great work went into testing and evaluation of color, typography, and materials. The end user was at the forefront of this project, and visitors will come to appreciate all the thoughtful work in this study."

Design Firm: 

Meeker & Associates


National Park Service

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Design Team: 

Donald Meeker (Principal), Christopher O'Hara (Associate), Harriet Spear (Designer)




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