Case Study by Andrew Kuzyk RGD, Partner, and Cynthia Damar-Schnobb, Associate & Design Director, Entro
Surrounded by the green space of Riverdale Park and the Don River, the new Bridgepoint Hospital maintains a welcoming environment with gardens, bike paths and the Don Jail heritage site, which offers public tours. Entro was asked to create two design programs for the space: a comprehensive wayfinding signage program for the hospital and a signage program recognizing donors to the Bridgepoint Foundation. In designing both, the goal was to fulfill the vision of the hospital: To be a place of healing, encouraging recovery.
Hospital staff, patients, visitors of Bridgepoint Hospital, the donors and potential donors, as well as visitors to the historic Don Jail (now known as the Administration Building).
We worked closely with Bridgepoint Hospital stakeholders and the planning and building architects to understand the circulation spaces and the functional programs before we established the overall wayfinding design methodology that is tailored to this site. We developed a comprehensive signage design package that graphically embraces the environment around the hospital.
The neutral palette of the hospital allows for colourful graphic inclusions in our design package. The extensive use of glass in the architecture brings a lot of natural light to the interiors, creating an intuitive background for the wayfinding and donor signage to easily connect to the green space and the water.
The wayfinding project lasted approximately 4 years from the concept development to its execution. The donor project commenced upon finalization of the wayfinding program.
Establishing a wayfinding system was the main priority for this project, which meant design and methodology for the wayfinding program had to be established before work could commence on any other programs. The design process took place at the same time as the development of the new building and renovation of the Don Jail. It took approximately two years to fully develop all of the designs and coordinate the integration of the signage system and infrastructure into the architecture of the site.
The project was executed over a period of one year, which consisted of fabrication, engineering coordination, installation to comply with building codes, installation of the wayfinding signage, and lastly, installation of the donor program.
For the wayfinding signage, the challenge was finding an appropriate amount of 'nature' to bring into the hospital without bringing in something cliché (i.e. a flower!). We wanted something that would look appropriate today, and withstand the test of time without being too abstract.
Another challenge was that the concept would be implemented in a completely new, modern space, but would also need to integrate well in the heritage environment of the historic Don Jail.
The product families for the donor program and wayfinding are different enough to serve their respective purposes, but also make use of complementary graphic elements to successfully coexist throughout the site. The use of glass for the Pathfinder donor program provides an elegant yet cost effective design solution which is consistent with the other design elements and can be easily updated.
Accent bands on the wayfinding signage throughout the site relate to the location's unique environmental elements - the green space on the North side of the hospital, the water on the South side of the hospital and the historic background of the Don Jail at the Administration Building.
In designing the main donor wall, our biggest challenge was to create a playful graphic interaction without relying on technology that would require constant upgrades. We decided to create a unique wall feature that lights up when someone approaches.
We looked at a variety of options to trigger the activation of the donor wall illumination: from computer gadgets, to dimmers, to simple sensor-activated security lighting. To test a combination of these parts, we contacted a variety of electronic suppliers who helped us broaden our search from the products in the lighting industry, to automotive and military products. In the end, we decided a presence sensor would be the best choice for executing this feature. Located on the South end of the hospital building (water side), the donor wall uses blue light blocks among the random colours to symbolize the site's proximity to the river.
We created a cohesive design throughout the site to accurately capture Bridgepoint's vision for the hospital. The understated design of the wayfinding signage complements the architecture's materiality, and the design of the donor programs artistically highlights various parts of the hospital, adding to the aesthetic value of the space.
- Creating two sets of product families that cater to completely different needs in the same space is always a challenging task. Ensure that your clients are aware of other designs that will coexist with theirs. This is very important for delivering a cohesive design package (Clients in this case: Bridgepoint Foundation for the donor signs, and Bridgepoint Hospital for the wayfinding signs).
- Designing something that hasn't been done before (i.e. utilizing presence sensors as part of the design) comes with many challenges and research efforts. If you are passionate about trying something new, be prepared to spend the necessary amount of time and effort required to make it a success.
- Involve your design partner from the beginning of the project and coordinate with architects early - by connecting early on, you can ensure that the infrastructure is built in a way that will accommodate multiple design possibilities (i.e. illumination).
- Willingness to try something different does not always result in a costly solution - an open mind can mean more opportunities for success, more possibilities and more effective results.