The new wayfinding and signage program began last year, but discussion about a wayfinding plan “began around 30 years ago,” Vice President for Marketing and Communication Tim Kennedy said.
“Gustavus… does so many things so well, but one of the things it didn’t do well was direct first time visitors, welcome them to campus, get them to a place to park, and get them directions to where they need to go… It’s something that’s been a passion of mine since I moved into this position as the Vice President about nine years ago,” Kennedy said.
Tim Kennedy, Director of Marketing Services Anna Deike, and Physical Plant Director Travis Jordan led a committee of people from all departments on campus which came together and looked into companies that made signs, finally deciding on Ayers Saint Gross, a company based out of Baltimore, MD. Ayers Saint Gross came to campus and met with the committee, which had previously met with students, faculty, alumni, the Three Crowns Council, and the Board of Trustees to determine the needs of the campus. “We’ve been waiting to do this for so long, we wanted to do it right,” Kennedy said.
“Every single person in that committee had such a diverse background in different departments on campus that we felt we got a really good feel of what would we brought campus… it really fit us as a whole,”Deike said.
“We sat down and looked at campus to see where we really needed signs… We went in and walked campus, went to major first- time visitor buildings like the Campus Center, Lund, the Library, Nobel… areas where we would have people come in to visit and hold public events… to see where we needed to strategically place signs,” Deike said.
“Part of the fun of this was the brainstorming process,” Deike said.
Ayers Saint Gross brought in examples of signs to get inspiration for designs, which the committee selected options from. “From all this information they came up with, they took pictures of our Chapel’s stained glass, came back, and showed us three different designs,” Dieke said.
“People love the fact that the angle at the side of the sign is a photo of Christ Chapel, and that the stone at the bottom is Kasota stone… we really wanted to make sure these signs fit the feel of Gustavus and the area where we live,” Kennedy said.
This process has been broken down into four phases. The signs currently on campus are part of phase one, which includes renaming the roads coming into campus and creating parking signs for each lot, which light up so they are visible at night. The map of campus was also redesigned, and the new version is on the large parking signs.
Phase two includes installing pedestrian signs to show visitors where to go after they are parked, and installing student parking lot signs. Phase three will be building identification, with signs that display everything inside the building.
Lastly, phase four will bring a redesign to the main campus entrances and new signage inside the buildings that tells people where to go once inside. Phase one should be finished by the end of the semester and phase four is estimated to be complete by summer of 2022. There have been some changes, but the entire budget of the project is about 1.3 million dollars, broken up over five years.
“We had to pay attention to cost,” Kennedy said.
“Initially, we wanted all the parking signs to have digital signs in them so we could change them for events, but that was just too expensive… we built magnets into the signs, so we have magnets for special events that will tell you where events are happening and where you can park,” Kennedy said.
Additionally, parking lots around campus were renamed alphabetically.
The “room number and braille are permanent, but the faculty member name and room are removable. There is also a piece for professors to put their schedules in, and, in a handful of rooms, a digital piece, like outside the Heritage Room, which displays the schedule for the day and the room which is reserved,” Deike said.
“We did all the internal signage for the new Nobel renovation, so the signs will be easy for people to read and to navigate,” Deike said
Another piece of the project was working with the emergency systems in St. Peter and Nicollet County and updating the street names. “Gustavus was a really confusing place to navigate if there was a fire on campus or if emergency services were called for ambulances. They put [the new names] into GPS systems so they could go right to buildings… it will be much easier for emergency vehicles to get onto campus quicker, which will provide better safety for the entire campus,” Kennedy said.
Buildings will also have building idenfication on the outside, which will be especially helpful for people driving by.
“This redesign was a really smart idea, especially for people who don’t know the environment of the campus, making it harder for them to get around. These new signs should make it way easier for them to find where they need to go,” Sophomore Taylor Flemming said.
“It’s been really rewarding to get a ton of positive feedback… what Gustavus was really missing was a way to really welcome visitors to this place. This was a great opportunity for us to take Gustavus to the next step in regards to recruiting students, which has become so competitive amongst private and state colleges… we have to be able to have a plan here to make people feel really welcome and make this process easy for them. This, I think, was a really vital step in making this campus more welcome,” Kennedy said.
“I’ve been here for 36 years, I graduated from here. It was really refreshing to think about being on campus as a visitor. When we’re done, Gustavus will be a leader in campus wayfinding, and that will really enhance us to prospective students and visitors,” Kennedy said.