Highland Hospital: wayfinding to grow with.

Throughout its history, Highland Hospital (Highland) has grown to meet its community needs. However, continuous expansion, additions and renovations result in a complex facility that risks being far from patient friendly. Ongoing growth and changes can create a maze of corridors which connect a labyrinth of buildings, putting the facility at risk of becoming a source of patient confusion and stress. To alleviate this risk, Highland Hospital and Takeform have developed a proactive approach to ensure effective wayfinding through every stage of change.

Over our nine-year relationship, we've proven that a long-term alliance is the best wayfinding therapy for growing hospitals. Think of it in terms of your personal health: a trusted physician builds his value to you over the long-term. Your doctor gets to know you personally, understanding your health history, evaluating your current state, and providing prognosis for the future. By building a long-term relationship with a wayfinding consultant, hospitals like Highland realize the same value on an organizational level. The alternative is to have your needs met by an ever-changing stream of sources who only know your organization superficially; each of whom brings their own set of conflicting recommendations and implementations.


CLIENT: Highland Hospital, URMC

WHAT: Wayfinding masterplan, interior and exterior signage

WHERE: Rochester, NY


You need to start somewhere, and for Highland, the solution was sparked by the anticipation of major renovations. This involved key departments being moved across the building and to different floors. Such changes cause long-term patients, familiar with a specific destination(s), to need considerable guidance until they become familiar with the new arrangement.

Through its history, the hospital had gone through many additions and renovations. These past experiences yielded important realizations: “Inconsistency in sign format and placement was a big issue for Highland. Every project had its own format and each design team made wayfinding decisions. The wayfinding experience was confusing for people visiting the hospital" explains Mike Zanghi, Highland Hospital's Director of Facilities.

Highland wanted a better answer. That's when we began a collaborative process to tame the complexity of the past, current and future facility changes. Through an in-depth analysis of the current facility and its upcoming renovations, Takeform created Highland's wayfinding masterplan, which standardized the design and placement specifications for all signage. The plan provided zone-based navigation, progressive disclosure, and incorporated existing visual identifiers which allowed for a minimalist approach to signage.

Mastering complexity.

Highland's wayfinding update and an Emergency Department renovation proved the effectiveness of the newly adopted approach. Working with architect, Clark Patterson Lee, Highland had developed a hospitality-inspired aesthetic. Our masterplan defined a sign standard which delivered a warm aesthetic through complimentary line, rich finishes and refined brand elements. The effectiveness of the new plan and the success of these important renovations marked the beginning of a productive partnership.

With clients like Highland, understanding expectations of the organization and identifying the nuances of the facility is a significant investment. The value is most appreciated over the long term, when the wayfinding consultant has become part of the hospital's team, getting involved early and often, resulting in streamlined projects and more importantly, improved patient experience.

“Takeform is part of our facilities team, from concept through installation, they provide guidance – both practical and aesthetic."

- Mike Zanghi
Director of Facilities, Highland Hospital

A year into the partnership, the Highland/Takeform team demonstrated its value on a new level. Thanks to the close collaboration, requirements for the wayfinding in Highland's new off-site parking facility were addressed early in the planning process. This advanced consideration provided a more effective solution that was implemented with greater efficiency and lower cost.

Two additional milestones, came soon after: our consultants guided Highland through wayfinding development for their Physician Office Building as well as their offsite Family Practice. These projects demonstrated how a consistent brand voice and wayfinding logic could be implemented across Highland's entire footprint.


The demands of managing a facility can be made even more complex when wayfinding is sourced through a variety of suppliers. Does this sound familiar? …the wayfinding system is designed by one company, signage is built by another and, possibly, installed by a third. When a project is executed in this manner, who is ultimately responsible? The hospital – having to oversee coordination and act as their own arbiter if a project falls short.

We brought Highland a better solution. Wayfinding projects involve three interdependent phases, design, manufacture and installation. Each phase has its own unique demands. This reality drove the development of our strategy as a single source provider. We provide every phase leaving you a single point of contact, one that holds ultimate responsibility, and is there for you well beyond the initial installation. The onus is on us to assure consistency of standards, including: sign type, color, finish, font, layout and graphic treatment – regardless of who initiates the order. Our goal is to free the client of distracting details, allowing them to confidently focus on the bigger picture.

“Having the support of our design, wayfinding and engineering experts in-house has been key to our success. Projects run smoothly because our team collaborates in real-time – providing solutions right when they're needed. It ensures our clients' requirements are met quickly."

- Anthony Fearby
Manager, Project Management, Takeform

Highland Hospital's growing affiliation with URMC brought an exciting challenge in 2014. Highland was to adopt new brand standards throughout the organization, and our team approach greatly simplified, what could have been, a far more demanding process.

The masterplan design specs for Highland's interior wayfinding seemed predestined to convey the new brand standards. The specified, “Camber" collection from our Fusion line was the ideal compliment to URMC's curve graphic – a defining secondary element of their brand standards.

The affiliation also drove demand for a complete update to Highland's exterior wayfinding. The project involved new installations as well as exacting retrofits to existing structures. We adapted a design from our Signify line that proved to be so “on-brand", it would soon be adopted as the sign standard for other URMC campuses.

“The improved wayfinding has helped countless patients and visitors get to their destinations quicker and with less stress."

- Mike Zanghi
Director of Facilities, Highland Hospital

Most recently, Highland constructed a significant two-level addition. The undertaking dictated major changes in traffic and people flow. During the most demanding phases for the project, weekly consultation meetings kept wayfinding and patient experience in focus as a key priority. The masterplan again acted as the reference point to provide continuity and clarity.

Beyond signage.

Effective wayfinding is a multi-touch solution. To supplement the system, we designed and produced visitor handouts with custom maps of each floor which could be marked up to provide personalized directions for each visitor. We also offered environmental graphic concepts for elevator corridors and other key spaces. Further value was brought to the relationship through organizational support by providing masterplan and system training during staff additions and transitions.

Clarity through change.

Hospitals are in a state of constant, or perhaps, “chronic" change. Technological advances, regulatory modifications, and changing financial models – not to mention the pressures of the competitive landscape – all drive continuous renovation and reorganization.

To keep pace with change, while ensuring optimal patient experience, wayfinding must be addressed early. A long-term partnership makes this type of advanced consideration a natural part of the process. Regularly scheduled consultation builds a synergy that encourages productive communication and planning. Likewise, a masterplan ensures an approved reference point now and into the future, whether addressing the latest major renovation or the day-to-day modifications.

With patient experience being a vital measure of quality, don't leave wayfinding effectiveness to chance. Start a consultative partnership with a proven wayfinding provider now. You'll improve the state of your current facility and be well prepared for every change to come.

Complimentary wayfinding consultation.

Consult with one of our wayfinding experts and we'll share valuable insight that will enhance the way people experience your space.

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Posted in: Branding, Case Study, Exterior Signage, Highlight, Interior Signage, Project Management, Project Profiles, Wayfinding  |  Tagged: Brand, Directional Signage, Facility, Healthcare, Icons, Illuminated Sign Cabinets, maps, Ownership Services, Project Management, Signage, Signify, Wayfinding

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