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Wayfinding: Field Trip Analysis Critique

Wayfinding
Field Trip Analysis and Critique Assignment

By Stephanie, Gilbert, and Lexi

Comm 1600 Foundations of Information Design Dr. Glenn Ruhl October 2011

2 For our Wayfinding assignment, we chose to go to Art Central located on the corner of Center street and 7th avenue SW. Art Central showcases a series of galleries and art stores all based out of the Calgary area. The signage at Art Central had a nice aesthetic appeal as a whole but lacked cohesiveness. The sign placement in the building was fairly consistent but often times the information given by the signs was misleading. Within Art Central there are many differing types of exhibits but the signage does not clearly showcase the variations which creates confusion. On the exterior of the building there is one main sign which indicates that the place is Art Central and it is located right above the main entrance. A few positive elements of this sign are the colors and font as they give the building a modern presentation which accurately depicts the feel of the interior. The sign is on a vertical axis and rotates which captures people attention and can be seen from many surrounding angles. A negative attribute of the sign is the orientation as the sign is placed too high making it easily missed by people walking right next to the building.

As you enter Art Central you are given a feeling of disorientation because of the multiple directions you are presented with. You are forced right away to choose a

Wayfinding: Field Trip Analysis Critique

direction to go in instead of being provided with a distinct pathway. The buildings design is confusing due to the multiple possible directions to travel in, vertical and horizontal. People are likely to go in a forward direction when they enter a building but when you enter Art Central you are drawn towards the stairway on the right-hand side leading to the cafe as it is bright red and more welcoming than the exhibit portion which is directly in front of the entrance. Art Central is situated around a spiral-style staircase which gives visitors the impression that there is a circular pathway to follow. This circular flow is consistent throughout all the floors of Art Central.

The exhibits within the building are all very different yet the signage does not represent the variations. It seems they follow a pre-determined display style that provides unity but not necessarily clarity. As we walked through the building it was difficult to gather information on specific exhibits and displays due to the signage being overhead. We found ourselves backtracking quite often to determine what each exhibit was about. There were building orientation maps at the main entrance as well as near the stairs to aid visitors in finding their way around. The numbering system on the maps was helpful to a degree but lacked the descriptions needed navigate effectively. Although all units on the map were numbered not all the exhibits corresponding had numbers displayed. The individual exhibits had different names and purposes however

4 the word art was a common element in many exhibit titles which led to confusion in determining separate exhibits.

The clearest focus in the building is the Bistro. Not only did it have the most signs on the exterior of the building it also had the most elaborate presentation within the building. There were signs at each decision point, such as the plus-15 entrance and the main entrance drawing in public attention. The cafe was also clearly advertised and had an attention drawing element. Within Art Central the food establishments are a main focus and it seems that they are given greater freedom within their design, yet still follow the color scheme of the building.

Wayfinding: Field Trip Analysis Critique

As a whole Art Central attempts to display a wide variety of galleries, stores and restaurants in a modern fashion. However due to the fact that the leases of each of the galleries are often changing it must be understood that there is a limited spectrum of ways Art Central can provide specific details. We noticed that the most reoccurring issues were the inconsistency with the numbering system, lack of differentiation between exhibits/galleries and lack of directional signage. As Information Designers we would be prompted to add additional signage on the exterior at different levels so that people near and far could see the location. Art Central was not advertised whatsoever when coming through the Plus 15 entrance and only once in the Main entrance. Signage announcing the entrances to Art Central more boldly would be appropriately placed at these entryways to avoid confusion and establish a boundary where Art Central begins and ends. Consistent numbering on all of the gallery entrances would also be helpful as it would add value to the maps already provided and add unity to the concept of the building. Someone with a physical disability would have a disadvantage since directional cues to the location of the elevator were not clearly represented and most orientation maps were set at high level, focused around the staircase. By adding some of the orientation maps at a lower height near the elevator and a clear indicator of the location of the elevator, this inconvenience could be avoided. Where Art Central lacked in signage and visual cues the Bistro made up for. This signage was continuous throughout the building, which in itself provided a way to navigate through Art Central without competing with the buildings aesthetic. Although Art Central may be pushing toward cognitive theories such as Millers Magic Number and of keeping it simple, choices are too minimal and do not stimulate way finding. With the addition of some more appropriately placed signage and consistency within the numbering system, Art Central could be navigated more effectively.