Wayfinding Exercise #1: Seattle Central Audit

Today in groups of two or three, students from the Environmental Graphic Design class scoured Seattle Central Community College and took notes on how easy (ridiculous) it was to find random classrooms. My team (Joyce and I) were assigned to find “SAM 404, NP 304 and BE 4105” from the North Back entrance (entrance most north and on the west side of the campus). The way this is phrased is really crucial because that is how room numbers are listed in registration, the room numbers’ abbreviated building designations, but the building signage is sometimes abbreviated, sometimes not.

Pursuit of SAM 404
Things that worked: Sign on side of the building facing, all caps bold permanent fixture. Banners that said “Welcome to Seattle Central” in blue. After entering building, the map and directory is on the right, official placard, clear map. We took the stairs (stairs had a sign in front of it, pretty clearly indicated stairs with a simple zig zag). Nice orange theme.

Things that didn’t work: Building sign not at the entrance of Science and Math Building (also one must infer that SAM means Science and Math). SAM 404 not listed on directory (one must infer that it’s on the fourth floor due to standards). Once on the fourth floor, we had to go left to find further wayfinding signage (it’s right in front of the elevator, so if you go by elevator, it is a better experience). Signage in front of elevator not terribly helpful. Deciding to find the room number by looking at adjacent numbers then logically proceeding to the next one in sequence until we found it. We found “404A Chemical Storage” first then proceeded to “404 Chemical Prep.”

Pursuit of SAM404
Pursuit of SAM404

Pursuit of NP 305
Things that worked: There is signage on the North Plaza that says “NP” so we knew which building to circle for more information. Sign on side of the building facing east, all caps bold black permanent fixture says North Plaza. There’s a map affixed to the wall facing south on the building as well.

Things that didn’t work: White lettering on glass on a door didn’t stand out too well. It turns out that the first floor isn’t connected to the third floor. There was signage indicating the various rooms on the first floor (gold placard), but no indications to stairs or no. Sign that says NP 305 in bold black san serif lettering only visible from handicap ramp which is the only way to get in.

Pursuit of 304
Pursuit of 304

Pursuit of BE 4105
Things that worked: Upon entering the main building from the north (one must infer that BE stands for Broadway Edison building which I don’t think people would assume, but there is a big all caps bold black permanent fixture says Broadway Edison). There’s a map and directory on the right after you enter. On the fourth floor signs outside of the elevator also clearly designed and helpful.

Things that didn’t work: There’s a map and directory on the right after you enter, but it didn’t list BE 4105. The directory was arranged by department, finding the room numbers were difficult (and impossible for this particular location). We inferred that it was on the fourth floor and took the elevator and followed signage placed on the right which pointed down the corridor. There was a fork in the road with mutually excluding signage but also excluding our room number. We followed 4106 around which turned out to be a block, numbers following (in this order): room 4106G, 4106K, etc. We followed them around a corner where the trail seemed to run cold until I spotted magic marker on a cement pillar two feet above eye-level, which we followed to a “sack in a cell” and found 4105 (its sign hiding behind another cement pillar) in a corner next to a collection of desks.

Pursuit of BE 4105
Pursuit of BE 4105

The Team’s Suggestions: All encompassing portable paper map with index that’s arranged by room number. Maps on each floor. A detailed map at the bottom of each building with a directory accounting for every room. Consistent conventions. We noticed the Science and Math building had consistent orange theme and more consistent signage (probably because it was built rather recently).

1)There needs to be a map of North Plaza building with room numbers located near entrances so visitors realize that it is most efficient to enter at the east entrance for room 304 instead of the south entrance which doesn’t give any hints as to through connecting to 304.

O'hare Terminal Map. It's easy to indicate location of a room. It's another thing to indicate its entrance.
O’hare Terminal Map. It’s easy to indicate location of a room. It’s another thing to indicate its entrance.

2) Recommend bright color palate and mnemonic object for differentiating floor and building. (Hanging ceiling signs can’t be black and white; they blend into tiling and light fixtures. And white on grey does not stand out.)

Pacific Place Parking Garage: Level 4 is Sydney and Orange
Pacific Place Parking Garage: Level 4 is Sydney and Orange

3) Signage that lists specific room numbers individually loses some numbers that are also there. Perhaps something like Mayfair Hotel’s room signage.

mayfair hotel room signage wayfinding
mayfair hotel room signage

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