Shaping Place with Wayfinding

Showing the Way at SEGD's 2015 Wayfinding Workshop

Wayfinding is not just about getting from here to there. It's about experiencing all the great things in between, and creating a memorable sense of place in the process. Whether it's for a city, a campus, or a healthcare facility, wayfinding can provide an excellent opportunity to tell stories and shape place. Mark Sandersand Billy Chenof Studio SC (Seattle) and Julie Vogel of Kate Keating Associates (San Francisco) will show you how April 23 at the SEGD Wayfinding Workshopin San Francisco. Register now; there are just a few seats left!

Billy Chen and Mark Sanders, principals at Studio SC, have created wayfinding systems for cities, campuses, transportation facilities, and health care facilities. All share the basic goal of getting people from here to there. But many of these projects, including a recent initiative for the City of Tacoma’s Pacific Avenue historic district, can provide clients with a big bonus: interpretive elements that create a sense of place and highlight the area’s unique history and offerings.

As part of an urban revitalization project, the City of Tacoma asked Studio SC to create a vehicular wayfinding system for the Pacific Avenue district. While the city and its multiple stakeholders were not initially planning to include an interpretive element, says Billy Chen, “We were able to merge those two pieces and create a strong interpretive graphics component that adds a lot to the signage and to the neighborhood.”

The system fulfills all the criteria of a highly functional vehicular wayfinding system, including careful attention to identifying primary destinations and key landmarks (in coordination with stakeholders), ensuring maximum legibility and optimum viewing distances, and durability for outdoor conditions. In Phase I of the project, 10 signs were installed in the 14-city-block area. Fabricated by Tube Art Groupwith aluminum cabinets and high-pressure digital laminate panels by SH Immersive Environments, they reference Tacoma’s industrial and railroad heritage, with a distinctive pillar form and expressed hardware.

The signs also curate and showcase the area’s history and features, with illustrative historical images cropped and printed onto the sign form at pedestrian level. The distinctive pillars reference Tacoma’s industrial legacy with historic information that pedestrians can enjoy as they walk the neighborhood. A mobile app in development will use QR codes on the signs to allow people to access more detailed historical information.

“So while it’s a vehicular wayfinding system, we found a way to augment the system and make the signs expressive of the neighborhood itself,” says Chen. “It creates a holistic revitalization and introduces a great layer of storytelling.”

>>Billy Chen and Mark Sanders, along with Julie Vogel of Kate Keating Associates, will lead the “Shaping Place with Urban Wayfinding” presentation at the SEGD Wayfinding WorkshopApril 23 in San Francisco. Find your way there!

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