MIT Wayfinding & Signage


Joel Katz Design Associates

Practice Area


Olin Partnership and Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Project Vision

This master plan addresses the unique urban conditions of MIT’s Cambridge campus, the confusing array of destinations encountered by visitors, new students, and faculty, and the lack of any comprehensive wayfinding system. The campus can be opaque and visually unnavigable to the uninitiated.

The report identifies key issues in the cultural context of the institution and defines target audiences, branding objectives, and benefits of an overall approach to wayfinding. Having defined the parameters of the problem, the report goes on to specifically develop criteria for the implementation of both vehicular and pedestrian wayfinding systems, methodology and nomenclature, and appropriate visual vocabulary. Part of the innovative approach to this solution is the implementation of consistent exterior and interior signing and the development of the viewing zone application model.

Finally, the report recommends the adoption of a unique system of signing that blurs the distinction between exterior and interior travel corridors. The system consists of sign components that incorporate current and historic building reference, campus-wide maps at campus entries with additional “heads-up” sub-campus maps along main pedestrian corridors, and a physical sign structure developed from a metaphoric square root symbol that is applied consistently down to the room identification level.

Project Details
From the total complexity of the study to the successful development recommendations, this master plan represents the brutal reality of what most of our profession is about. With only so much time, the jury was able to fully comprehend the intent and development direction of this document. The inclusion of information about front-end evaluation and other evidence of the thinking process made this project stand out. As a client, I want a document like this! Clear documentation to identify and understand the real problems, followed by an incredibly comprehensive set of existing conditions, studies, and solutions. Sign me up!
Juror 1
Design Team

Joel Katz (Principal in Charge), Joel Katz, Dave Schpok

Design Firm

Joel Katz Design Associates


Stuart G. Rosenberg Architects