When Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, New York sought input about its interior signage during the design of a new eight-story, $145 million facility it was told that the way floors were named and numbered often made it very difficult to navigate quickly and simply. The hospital administrators agreed that its way-finding lacked cohesiveness and brand consistency after 40 years of being added to in an ad hoc way. In the lobby for example, department names and arrows pointing in different directions were mounted on the same large posts, while on the upper floors individual departments had been allowed to choose their own signage and even artwork.
The first step was to choose an overarching theme that would be timeless and engaging, and would unite all of the spaces throughout the building. The hospital chose “upstate New York geography” as a unifying concept to bring nature into the setting, celebrate the region’s four seasons, and appeal to its broad base of patients, many of whom must drive several hours to reach the hospital.
Each floor was assigned a specific location based on the different landscapes within the region, including lake, meadow, glen, park, city, mountain, and sky translated into an icon, color palette, and coordinating elements on each floor, including large-scale stock photography images for the waiting areas and nurses’ stations, patient room graphics, and interactive elements in the hallways.
Patients and families are introduced to the way-finding system when they check in and receive a name badge with the icon of their assigned floor. That icon appears in building directories and as a large backlit sign outside each lift.
As patients enter a floor’s waiting area, they find additional elements that reinforce the theme, including large graphics of children engaged in an activity related to that floor’s geographical area.
For example, the ground level features a lake theme with shades of blue and images of kids playing in water and jumping off a dock, while the third floor has a meadow theme with a yellow color palette and graphics that include images of flowers, cows, and grass.