Wayfinding at Kohler Pavilion: From City to Corridor
“Wayfinding” means successfully negotiating a path, often within the confines of a building. A farther-reaching view, however, expands the term to encompass moving from building to building, campus to campus, or even city to campus. At the Peter O. Kohler Pavilion, the new multiuse medical facility at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon, the wayfinding scheme developed by Anderson Krygier, Inc., orients itself to this expanded scope.
OHSU, like many healthcare organizations, is in a constant state of expansion and development. A couple of years ago, sheer lack of space forced it to “jump off the [Marquam] hill”—down to newly available land along the Willamette River at Portland's South Waterfront. Kohler Pavilion, the last facility developed on the upper campus, cantilevers out from the existing hospital on the last available toehold of land. The wayfinding challenge for Kohler Pavilion was threefold: first, how to find the building by car; second, how to travel to the building from the South Waterfront (and back) via the new Portland Aerial Tram; and third, how to navigate within Kohler Pavilion and from building to building on the Marquam Hill Campus.
For vehicular wayfinding, Anderson Krygier worked with OHSU to simplify and update existing directional messages on its Marquam Hill Campus and developed a straightforward parking designation system to replace a thoroughly obsolete one. Throughout both campuses, patient/visitor parking is identified by a bold, yellow-encircled “P” (figure 1). Permit parking is based on a system of one, two, or three diamonds, depending on the desirability of the parking space.
Patient/visitor parking on the two Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campuses is identified by a bold, yellow-encircled “P.”.
Kohler Pavilion is serving as the test case for wayfinding concepts that may be implemented in all patient/visitor parking garages on OHSU's Marquam Hill Campus (figure 2). The entire garage is represented by a single icon (in this case, a mountain) repeated on every floor. Elevator entries and columns are color-coded by floor level. These features allow visitors to pinpoint vehicle location even if they are unable to read or comprehend written messages, a particularly helpful feature for people with language barriers or aging-related cognition problems.
The parking and information booth on OHSU's Marquam Hill campus, once an invisible gray, is now easily recongnized by its colorful yellow fascia and green info symbols.
The combination of constricted access through residential neighborhoods and steep, winding roads to Marquam Hill inspired OHSU and the City of Portland to boost public transportation with a stylish two-car aerial tram system (figure 3). Each car accommodates 79 passengers and traverses up or down the hill in three minutes. Portland's modern light-rail system, bus, and streetcar service combine to convey people from suburbs and city neighborhoods to the lower tram terminal next door to the OHSU Center for Health & Healing (figure 4). A quick tram ride then takes clinical staff, patients, and visitors to Marquam Hill.
The Portland Aerial Tram carries up to 79 people between the two OHSU campuses in just three minutes. A similar trip by car would take at least 20 minutes.
OHSU's Center for Health & Healing sits at the lower Tram terminus, serving as a “transportation hub” for the lower OHSU campus and Portland's South Waterfront district. Sculptural wayfinding signs based on the wave metaphor are scaled for visibility in the large spaces.
Because the various hospitals on Marquam Hill were built at different times and at different elevations, floor levels don't necessarily coincide. Visitors reaching the Marquam Hill Campus via the tram enter Kohler Pavilion at the ninth floor, which is the common connector to all buildings on the Marquam Hill Campus (figure 5). From the tram terminal, visitors may proceed to other OHSU buildings, stay within the Kohler Pavilion, or simply take in the breathtaking view from the ninth-floor outdoor terrace, a designated scenic viewpoint.
Bold graphics with large floor numbers welcome and orient visitors to Kohler Pavilion's ninth floor at elevators from the parking garage. Directional signs features a floor number and building name.
Within Kohler Pavilion, bold graphics with large floor numbers welcome and orient visitors. Directional signs along the ninth-floor corridor feature a floor number and building name to further support wayfinding. Arrows on these signs are located at the side of the directional message to which they are pointing, helping people negotiate a route virtually without thinking. Those returning from various appointments find themselves guided by tram icons indicating that they are moving in the right direction to access the tram for the trip home (figure 6).
Anderson Krygier's bold, colorful tram icon is an easily recognized wayfinding cue on both OHSU campuses.
The wayfinding scheme at the Kohler Pavilion illustrates the degree to which wayfinding is becoming a much more flexible art and science. Cleanly designed, logical, and economical in its minimal reliance on high-tech solutions, this comprehensive wayfinding scheme simplifies access to multiple destinations. It is, like the campuses it serves, designed for flexibility, growth, and constant change. In today's climate of fast-growing, constantly shifting healthcare service locations, appropriate wayfinding is becoming more crucial than ever. HD