The Chapel Hill "streetscape" committee tells us the downtown needs "'way-finding' signage."
No doubt it does need something. On my first trip down here from points north, almost 20 years ago, I ended up at the UNC Hospital complex rather than downtown on the main campus as I intended. That's because the sign at the point where you veer off 15-501 to the right to get on Franklin Street said "Downtown." It didn't say UNC. (The first sign mentioning UNC was at Manning Drive, which is why I ended up at the hospitals.) I don't think the situation has changed. Signage would have been nice, but I would have settled for a decent sign.
But this wayfinding thing goes beyond signage. In fact, wayfinding is not signage. A concept that's been around since 1960, it encompasses much more than signs. To create successful "wayfinding," you need to
- Clearly identify arrival points.
- Provide convenient parking and accessible walkways located adjacent to each public entry.
- Locate information desks within each public entry visible from the front door.
- Place elevator lobbies so they can be seen upon entering the building.
- Use consistent lighting, floor coverings and architectural finishes in primary public corridor systems.
- Situate memorable landmarks along corridors and at key decision points.
- Design public waiting areas that are visually open to corridors.
- Distinguish public from non-public corridors by using varied finishes, colors and lighting
- Harmonize floor numbers between connecting buildings.
All of which would be good for for our downtown Chapel Hill development and streetscape projects--no matter what you call it.