Ottawa MacDonald Wayfinding Signage Program

Merit Award

The recently completed Ottawa Airport in Canada's national capital aims to ease passenger stress by creating humane spaces that reflect the nature of the region and make it easy to find one's way.

Utilizing LED lighting for navigation, strong color accents and elegant design, the bilingual sign program helps travelers get to their destinations quickly, easily, and with minimal stress. The post-mounted system provides for flexibility in accommodating signage, the integration of lighting, telephone tables, and advertising carriers within a consistent family of carriers. New directories and floor level legends provide concise information for visitor orientation at key locations throughout the terminal and parking facility.

Contrast levels, reflectivity of graphics, and sign surfaces were verified to exceed ADA standards. Sign locations, the use of tactile information, and Braille were determined in consultation with an independent consultant to the project. Contrasting, textured floor markings were provided through the architectural design. Tactile and Braille information is presented at consistent heights and wheelchair accessible.

In retrospect, the designers think their most important contribution was getting the architects to put coat hangers near the urinals in the men's room – a small but important victory for all travelers.

Jury Comments: 

"The jury was impressed by the clarity and uniformity of this system that brought an extremely high standard of detailing and finish to an integrated wayfinding system. A first class example of an everyday wayfinding program at its most accomplished and professional."

Design Firm: 

Gottschalk + Ash International


Ottawa MacDonald - Cartier International Airport Authority

Location City: 

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Project Area: 


Open Date: 


Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

William McElligott

Design Team: 

Chris Herringer (Design Director), Jamie Cheung, Ken Lynch, Jon Picklyk, Udo Schliemann, Kal Jabusch, Richard Anderson


Terry Heard Designers (Industrial Design and Planning)


Taylor Manufacturing (for Passenger Terminal Building)

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