When Google’s Kirkland campus was set to dramatically expand, they needed a new wayfinding scheme for both Googlers and visitors. The desire was a design approach that was innovative in the way it reflects the company’s values and attitude.
To that end, the design team discovered that Google’s founders are strong believers in the Montessori method of learning and working, which emphasizes making use of all of the five senses. This ideology inspired the design solution: each building on campus can be identified by a different texture, letter, shape and color related to Google’s brand.
Google’s Kirkland campus is characterized by a series of very similar looking buildings. A very large new building—almost doubling the square footage of campus working space—was slated to open in 2016 across a lengthy pedestrian bridge. This dramatic expansion made wayfinding on the campus far more complex. Visitors can now park in multiple locations and buildings, but must funnel through a consistent, secure entry point. Studio Matthews’ wayfinding scheme included assessment and strategy for the complete campus and inserted both pedestrian and car wayfinding, including changing traffic patterns in some locations.
The Kirkland campus sits in a green, non-urban setting, so the design was intended to reflect the colorful, contemporary quality of the Google brand while simultaneously not “shouting at the neighbors.” The wayfinding plan includes approximately 20 signs, plus architectural color treatments at four entry points to buildings. The scope covered concept design through construction administration.
The signs’ tactile quality invites touch. As the light shifts from day to day and season to season, the dimensionality of the signs creates a changing shadow play, making them highly memorable.
Google reports no wayfinding issues despite the dramatic increase in the size of campus. Feedback has been very positive on the look, feel and inventiveness of the sign scheme. Google always wants to be on the forefront of innovative design, and that includes their working environments. The signs are seen as a positive embodiment of Google’s brand and attitude.
Kristine Matthews (designer), Cassie Klingler (designer), Scott Ichikawa (designer), Christoffer Hart Hansen (designer)
217,800 sq ft