Are we there yet?
Wayfinding and a sense of arrival.
Project Profile: Keuka College
CLIENT: Keuka College
WHAT: Signify Exterior Signage & Wayfinding Program
WHERE: Keuka Park, NY
Established in 1890, in an idyllic lakeside community, Keuka College is a haven of higher education set on the shore of Keuka Lake, one of New York's renowned Finger Lakes.
The picture-perfect setting that is the Keuka College campus has its unique challenges. The school's steady expansion has led to its facilities being intermingled with private residences and businesses. From a collaborative perspective, the college's integration within the hamlet of Keuka Park offers mutually beneficial opportunities for both the college and community. However, the campus's blurred footprint made two important initiatives difficult. First, the development of a meaningful brand presence throughout the campus. Second, development of an effective vehicular wayfinding system that directs visitors to its widespread buildings and facilities.
Keuka College administration sought a singular solution to their brand and wayfinding challenge. That's where our project began…
A brand with a plan.
The project would be guided by two ambitious documents. First, “A guide to the Keuka College Brand" clearly defines everything that is their brand. Second, the College Master Plan, titled E2: Empowering Excellence – is built around three key elements – our work was driven by the third directive to “revive the home campus. “
The need is clear; in today's competitive environment, colleges must have a strong sense of both place and brand to vie for enrollment.
The Campus Master Plan states:
• “The College should make a concerted effort to create an intentional first impression… (and) create a preliminary sense of arrival and anticipation."
• “Thriving institutions have curb appeal that reflects sound planning principles and good stewardship… and has an intentionally designed welcome experience that tells its story and aligns with its identity."
With these two playbooks in hand we began a close collaboration with their marketing and design team. We explored how branding elements and wayfinding messaging should integrate to create an ideal balance of brand and visibility that would also respect the surrounding community. The resulting design standard provided brand presence and wayfinding clarity that would adapt to meet every need.
With an approved design, we conducted campus walkthroughs to assess traffic flows and investigate their specific goals:
- Provide a sense of arrival and welcome along the main access route
- Stimulate anticipation on approach to Ball Hall, the campus center piece
- Provide unifying identity for each building across the sprawling campus
- Establish vehicular wayfinding directories, especially at complex intersections which pose sign locating challenges
- With visiting sports teams in mind, provide wayfinding and a sense arrival to not only the campus at large, but specific remote sports facilities.
A welcoming experience.
The Master plan poses the challenge: “While the recommended route provides views of the lake, it needs to create a moment of arrival on campus and frame anticipated views of the lake and the recently-renovated and iconic Ball Hall." We began with a large monument sign along the main entry route on the northern edge of campus. Its significant scale served to create that “moment of arrival" while also identifying specific facilities in the immediate area. The contemporary understated design welcomed and gave a promise of what was to come.
Continuing south along Central Avenue, vehicular directional signs guide visitors through the campus/community while continuing to build brand and anticipation on the approach to Ball Hall – this is the heart of the campus where the college began and where new visits begin every day.
“… the College needs to begin telling a cohesive and compelling story."
Keuka College "Campus Master Plan Summary"
Ball Hall's graceful brick entrance walls and iconic architectural lines combine to create an inspiring arrival. Our objective was to reinforce that impression in a manner that honors that history while creating compelling brand appeal.
Our design readily adapted. Refined historic graphics and serif fonts combine with strong color treatments to differentiate Ball Hall's monument sign from the more contemporary campus standard.
A sense of place.
Keuka Park's tourist ambience is a big plus for vacationers, but it lacked a destination that gave students their own sense of belonging. Keuka Commons is the answer to that need. Envisioned as a college town concept, phase one development included the bookstore, food venues, health & counseling centers, specialized academic facilities and a post office with phase two expansion to add a community recreation center and student apartments.
The addition of architectural graphics and signage transformed the building into a campus hub. No longer just an anonymous new building in the larger community, the discerning addition of signage and brand graphics enhanced its sense of place and made Keuka Commons an important campus destination.
Winning over "visitors."
In addition to prospective students and their families, visiting sports teams regularly are in need of wayfinding guidance. Traveling to Keuka College's various athletics facilities had always been challenging as they are located some distance from the main campus.
With arrival on campus now clearly defined, we focused on directing team buses through the campus and community to the sports venues. Through prominent vehicular directionals, teams are shown the way and upon arrival they are greeted by large, strategically positioned, branded monument signs that give the facilities their own sense of place and credibility.
“Our branded wayfinding system is a big win. Takeform has unified our campus under our new brand and alleviated challenging navigation problems."
Director of Marketing Analytics and Project Management, Keuka College
Direct + Connect.
Thanks to their visionary planning, Keuka College has a promising future. They are creating a campus that will attract students and enhance their lives for years to come. With proven strategy and design standards in place, their wayfinding system is ready to support growth.
A comprehensive wayfinding approach offers much more than navigation assistance. It can support brand story, unify a campus and enhance credibility through a meaningful visual presence. There is an intersection between wayfinding and brand that, when executed skillfully, elevates the value of an organization and builds stronger connections with those it serves.