WHITNEY: A Simple and Flexible Language
The Whitney Museum of American Art pays tribute to 20th and 21st-century American art. Located at the terminus of the High Line in New York’s Meatpacking District, the museum contains over 21,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, photos, film and new media. Entro Communications was engaged to develop the identity signage, wayfinding, donor recognition elements and electronic event displays for the museum’s nine floors over 220,000 sq. ft. of space.
Entro’s challenge was to extend the Whitney brand with enough restraint to keep the museum environment simple, elegant and timeless. It had to be functionally effective yet subdued enough so as not to compete with the art. To achieve this, the Entro team used Whitney’s “Responsive W” logo as a graphic element to create a unique visual language for the wayfinding program. A flexible typographic grid based on this logo, consisting of graphics that incorporate arrows, act as a “container” for directional information. The monochromatic color palette is based on black, gray and white, and type plays a secondary and complementary role.
Entro ensured consistent integration of graphic, digital and architectural features by extending this minimalist approach and employing restraint wherever possible, including on the donor “wall” where silver vinyl on the main lobby glazing achieves a memorable but simple effect. Other materials include painted aluminum and bead-blasted stainless steel letters and photopolymer sign panels.
Digital signage was placed strategically at typical information-gathering and high traffic areas. This included exterior identity signs, elevator cabs, elevator lobbies and coat check areas. Digital displays (Primeview 42.5-in. LCD/panoramic displays) were applied in a consistent vertical format, no matter the size, for consistency and to ensure that information and artwork could be interchanged easily between both.
Overall, the result of this approach is a clean branded environment with signage, wayfinding, donor recognition and digital event displays that do not detract from the museum pieces while allowing patrons to effectively move around the public spaces with ease and tranquility.
"Brand and wayfinding in perfect symbiosis at every touchpoint."
"Beauty, simplicity and the clever use of traditional illuminated wayfinding signage vernacular are what set this project apart. The reference to the Whitney identity in the unorthodox directional arrows is a thoughtful touch. This project is a quintessential example of how to design for a museum in a manner that doesn’t compete with the subject, but highlights the navigation and information in a precisely appropriate way."
Randy Johnson (project manager), Brenda Tong (senior designer)
Design Communications Ltd. (fabricator)