Seattle Children’s Hospital Building Care Wayfinding

Building Care’s wayfinding program doesn’t only provide directions – it embraces patient families with artwork that comforts and enables them to navigate their journey with ease. The addition of Building Care and its main lobby opened a new front door for the hospital and created an opportunity to introduce patient families and visitors to the wayfinding system. Signage and artwork work in tandem: zone-specific colors and distinct icons support navigation that’s universally understandable, while coordinated mural art showcases animals participating in acts of care, comfort, and wonder.


Studio SC

Practice Area


Seattle Children’s Hospital


An interactive diorama at the welcome desk showcases the hospital’s wayfinding zones and primary destinations in a playful way, providing an understanding of the hospital and entertaining children during check-in.

Lara Swimmer Photography

The Deer Elevator is framed by forest-inspired graphics that help create a welcoming environment, reinforcing zone identity so users may easily find their way to and from the elevators.

Lara Swimmer Photography

Project Overview

In the new main lobby, hospital zones and the Discovery Trail are introduced through an interactive 3D diorama that is integrated into the reception desk and the illustrated wall map found nearby. Both outline the easiest path across the hospital while highlighting primary destinations, presented as a journey of exploration with memorable landmarks that assist wayfinding and promote interest and reprieve. The diorama, imbedded into the reception desk, can be controlled by both staff and visitors to introduce the hospital’s zone system while serving as a positive distraction element, allowing parents to focus on the check-in process while children learn about the lay-of-the-land in an approachable and positive way.

The hospital is organized into four zones, all of which can be navigated using the Discovery Trail – a conceptual pathway wayfinding tool that connects all of the zones through the hospital and guides patient families along the easiest path from one end to the other. Each zone – Forest, River, Mountain, and Ocean – is inspired by the natural environment of the region Seattle Children’s serves. Zone identification is reinforced through landmark murals showcasing each zone’s natural world and the flora and fauna found within. Animals are depicted interacting with or caring for others while on a pathway, emphasizing comfort and harkening back to the Discovery Trail.

Detailed consideration was given to ensure colors and artistic expressions supported positive notions across cultures and religions, ensuring the theme of comfort and care was universal to all. This allows for a welcoming experience across languages, backgrounds, and age groups, allowing patients and families to be confident and connected along their journey.

Together, this integrated program facilitates a clear and comfortable navigational experience for the unique needs of patient families –one that’s rooted in Seattle Children’s core value of compassionate care.

At the Salmon Elevators, users are greeted by a large level identifier alongside bold graphics that support the zone story while overhead directionals mark the Discovery Trail wayfinding component.

Lara Swimmer Photography

3-D portals show playful scenes inspired by the four hospital Zones and act as both memorable landmarks and moments of reprieve along the Discovery Trail.

Benjamin Benschneider Photography

The back-of-house elevators – which service staff and patients in beds – include large-scale, Zone-specific graphics that support wayfinding by providing a consistent and comforting theme across every patient touch-point.

Lara Swimmer Photography

As patient families and visitors move from Zone to Zone they are greeted by large scale graphics, Zone ID’s, and directionals that contextualize where they are within the hospital.

Lara Swimmer Photography

Project Details
Design Team

Studio SC

Photo Credits

Lara Swimmer Photography, Benjamin Benschneider Photography (photography)

Open Date

May 2022