Alberta Hospital Ponoka Wayfinding


Gottschalk + Ash International

Practice Area


Alberta Infrastructure (Government of Alberta), CPV Group Architects


Project Vision

Alberta Hospital Ponoka Wayfinding Signage Program

This hospital site is a campus-like complex in a parkland setting south of Ponoka. The architectural organization of spaces, the single-story character of treatment buildings, their residential-like finishes, and plans that optimize daylight entry into rooms are important features of the facility design.

The project design parameters reflect the intent of the client, whose objective was to go beyond signs in developing a unique, site-specific wayfinding program that works on a variety of levels to enhance the appearance, interest, and function of the hospital environment. Meetings with the client and architects explored opportunities to create a meaningful identity for the facility and different interior spaces. The designers looked at design elements like color, imagery, and artifacts with consideration of the landscape, culture, history, community, psychology, and perception to determine an appropriate, functional palette of options for the program.

The team included a leading clinical researcher in cognitive psychology, visual search, and vision and aging to help establish principles and human factors performance criteria for specific patient groups, elder visitors, etc. They developed a nomenclature and visual vocabulary that differentiates areas and destinations for caregivers, residents, and visitors. Conceptual planning and design incorporated thematic graphics and demonstrated the potential use of artifacts, public art, and design installations as an expression of the facility identity and enhancement of the environment.

Project Details
This project impressed the jury both by the depth and thoroughness of the approach and by the elegance, quality, and personality of the solution. Of particular note is the multi-layered vocabulary of colors, forms, shapes, and visual symbols identifying the three separate components of the health-care facility as components of the wayfinding system and the individual visual symbols that patients can choose to personalize their rooms. The several levels of redundancy this achieves assists those hospital users with varying degrees of cognitive impairment or simply unfamiliar with the environment. A remarkable achievement, based on thorough homework and resulting in a project with real heart and warmth.
Juror 1
Design Team

Chris Herringer (Design Director), Kal Jabusch, Ken Lynch, Byron Pope, Udo Schliemann

Design Firm

Gottschalk + Ash International


Charles Scialfa, Vision and Aging Lab at the University of Calgary


ASI Sign Systems