INTRODUCTION

Every day, thousands of tourists and new immigrants enter Canada for the first time across our borders and through our airports. Arriving in a new country is daunting enough, but it is even more challenging if you do not speak the languages. First impressions are important, and as a multi-cultural nation, Canada prides itself on welcoming people from around the world. Signs and visual information must be easily understood by everyone. A series of standard, universally designed symbols are recognized internationally, representing concepts such as washrooms, first aid and no smoking. This unit presents a case study of the award-winning signage developed for the new Terminal 1 building at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. It also includes an activity about developing a survival guide (or resource guide) for newcomers.


DESIGN

Design Discipline: Graphic Design

 
Design Defined

Design:

Whe Read More

INTRODUCTION

Every day, thousands of tourists and new immigrants enter Canada for the first time across our borders and through our airports. Arriving in a new country is daunting enough, but it is even more challenging if you do not speak the languages. First impressions are important, and as a multi-cultural nation, Canada prides itself on welcoming people from around the world. Signs and visual information must be easily understood by everyone. A series of standard, universally designed symbols are recognized internationally, representing concepts such as washrooms, first aid and no smoking. This unit presents a case study of the award-winning signage developed for the new Terminal 1 building at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. It also includes an activity about developing a survival guide (or resource guide) for newcomers.


DESIGN

Design Discipline: Graphic Design

 
Design Defined

Design:

When used as a verb, design means thinking about, conceiving and executing an idea. It is a creative, problem-solving process. When used as a noun, design refers to the result or product of such cognitive processes.

 
Graphic Design:

Graphic design is the work or profession of creating printed or electronic forms of visual information to convey messages and concepts. Posters, advertisements in magazines and web sites are all examples of graphic design.

 
Wayfinding:

Wayfinding constitutes the design and combination of visual tools that assist people in navigating their way through an environment. Wayfinding gives the user visual clues that provide necessary information inside and outside of buildings. Examples are symbols and signs for washrooms, directions, and names of places.

 
Universal Design:

Universal Design is the design of products, communication systems and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. An example of universal design is the "curb cut."  By sloping the edge of the sidewalk down to street level at intersections, crossing the street is made accessible for people in wheelchairs. This design feature also makes life easier for everyone else - people with strollers, canes, buggies, carts, children on bicycles, and people with impaired vision. Put simply, universal design makes life easier for everyone.

 
DESIGNERS

Wayne McCutcheon and Veronica Chan from Entro Communications (Toronto, Ontario) in partnership with Pentagram (New York, New York)

Entro Communications was established in 1990. Today the firm employs architects, engineers, urban planners, industrial and environmental designers, with clients in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. Entro Communications specializes in 'environmental graphic design.' In other words, the firm develops signs, wayfinding strategies and other types of visual communication for use in built environments, such as malls, airports, hospitals and schools.


DESIGN CHALLENGE

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) challenged the graphic designers to create an effective wayfinding system that would be clear, concise and functional for the millions of international passengers that go through the new terminal, including passengers from different cultural backgrounds and those with disabilities. The client also wanted the wayfinding system to give the airport a unique identity that would be easily identifiable by everyone.

 
CLIENT

Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA)

 
USERS

Travelers and airport staff including those with disabilities and those unable to comprehend English and French

 

DESIGN SOLUTION

The New York-based firm Pentagram was the design lead on this project. The firm was responsible for creating the graphic standards, which are a set of guidelines that explain how the graphic identity should be used. For example, Pentagram might specify certain colours, fonts, sizes, spacing and use of logos and images. These guidelines would be applied throughout the airport. Entro Communications of Toronto was responsible for all of the wayfinding, planning and detailing projects. Entro worked closely with the architectural firm in charge of designing the new terminal to ensure that the signage and the building design fit seamlessly with each other. The signs are unobtrusive as they appear to be an extension of the architecture. For example, all overhead signs are designed using a double-curved propeller shape that blends with the roof structure which simulates an airplane wing. Throughout the project, the graphic designers were in constant communication with engineers, planners, government offices, airlines and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Designed so that travelers could easily differentiate between languages, all English text was placed on curved panels, and French text was placed on flat panels. Colour-coding separates the information even further: departures are yellow, arrivals are green, and public services and amenities are white. For the gate numbers, check-in areas and baggage claim signs, Entro Communications used perforated metal in order to achieve a highly visible "matrix font". This font made up of dots is also used throughout the airport for changing information on liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors. Entro Communications conducted tests prior to the opening of the airport to ensure that their design was effective for the end users. The designers took into consideration elements such as the need for Braille applications for blind travelers. Braille is found in all elevators, washrooms and emergency exits. Large, brightly colour-coded icons that meet international standards aid travelers who are visually impaired or who do not speak English or French. Because visibility was so important, Entro conducted distance studies and kept information to a minimum. They limited each sign to four lines of text and symbols. A font was designed that was between light and regular weight to be easier on the eyes.

AIGA Design Archives: Signage, Terminal 1, Pearson International Airport, Toronto http://designarchives.aiga.org/entry.cfm/eid_1120

AIGA: Symbol Signs http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm?CategoryID=38

Entro Communications: Wayfinding and Signage http://www.entro.com

Government of Canada: Accessibility of Airport Terminals: Toronto Pearson International Airport http://www.accesstotravel.gc.ca/airports/toronto-e.asp

Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario www.rgdontario.com

Graphic Designers of Canada www.gdc.net

Signage Design www.designofsignage.com

Statistics Canada: 2001 Census of Canada http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/home/index.cfm

 

Universal design

Design Exchange universal programs www.dx.org/universal

 http://www.udeducation.org/teach/course_mods/donnelly1.asp

Universal Education Online: The Principles of Universal Design http://udeducation.org/learn/aboutud.asp#principles

Universal Design Symbols http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm?CategoryID=38

 
Additional Resources

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Quantifying Universal Design: A Program For Implementation. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2004.

Clarkson, John. Inclusive Design: Design for the Whole Population. Springer, 2003.

Evamy, Michael. In Sight: A Guide to Design With Low Vision in Mind: Examining the Notion of Inclusive Design, Exploring the Subject Within a Commercial and Social Context. RotoVision, 2004.

Imrie, Robert. Inclusive Design: Designing and Developing Accessible Environments. Spon Press, 2001.

Keates, Simeon. Countering Design Exclusion: An Introduction to Inclusive Design. Springer, 2003.

SIETAR Europa. Images, Cultures, Communication: Images, Signs, Symbols: The Cultural Coding of Communication. SIETAR Europa Congress,1997.

Westcott, Jacqueline. Improving Information on Accessible Tourism for Disabled People. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2004.


© 2006, Design Exchange. All Rights Reserved.

Check-in counter signs have a dot matrix typeface made of aluminium sheets with holes punched out

Destinations, such as check-in counters, gates and baggage claiming areas, are identified by a dot matrix typeface. The signs are made of aluminium sheets with holes punched out.

Entro Communications (Toronto, Ontario) with Pentagram Design (New York City, USA)
2004
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2004, Entro Communications. All Rights Reserved.


The bilingual signs are inspired by the curved roof of the terminal.

The bilingual signs are inspired by the curved roof of the terminal. The flat side displays French text which is usually longer than the English. The curved side displays the English text, directional arrows and universal symbols.

Entro Communications (Toronto, Ontario) with Pentagram Design (New York City, USA)
XXth
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© Entro Communications. All Rights Reserved.


Baggage claim signs have 'static' and 'dynamic' panels with liquid crystal displays.

The airport has ‘static’ signs which never change, and ‘dynamic’ signs that have continually updated information. The designers chose liquid crystal displays for the dynamic panels because they were more legible than plasma screens.

Entro Communications (Toronto, Ontario) with Pentagram Design (New York City, USA)
2004
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2004, Entro Communications. All Rights Reserved.


The signage design is consistent from the highway to the departure lounge.

Entro Communications was responsible for all of the signs inside and outside of the building. They ensured that the signage design is consistent from the highway to the parking lot, check-in counter and departure lounge.

Entro Communications (Toronto, Ontario) with Pentagram Design (New York City, USA)
2004
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2004, Entro Communications. All Rights Reserved.


The designers used empty hangars during construction to create mock signs and environments.

The designers used empty hangars during construction to create mock signs and environments. They worked closely with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to test legibility.

Entro Communications (Toronto, Ontario) with Pentagram Design (New York City, USA)
2004
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2004, Entro Communications. All Rights Reserved.


Symbols, fonts and colours of highway signs are consistent with the signs at the airport.

Entro Communications was also responsible for the design development and resigning of all collector highways to the new Terminal 1. Symbols, fonts and colours are consistent with the signs at the airport.

Entro Communications
2005
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2005, Entro Communications. All Rights Reserved.


Wayne McCutcheon talks about his career and the holistic approach to wayfinding design.

Wayne McCutcheon speaks about his career path and what it means to design wayfinding systems.

McCutcheon speaks about his career path and what it means to design wayfinding systems. "When I started out I studied engineering in school – I went to university for engineering. I went to work for a company and I started doing product design and then from product design I had to then start designing packaging for the product – you know what does the packaging look like - and from there got into the graphics. So I thought design seemed like a pretty interesting field – and that was pretty early, you know in some ways graphic design wasn’t a big thing at school back then. Then my business partner and I, we met up because I got hired by a company to do corporate identity design – corporate identity roll out. It was a company that came from Australia and set up here in Canada and so we worked for them. The two of us worked together there for a few years before we decided to start our own firm. So I kind of went from product design to technical product design to graphic design to then working into this specialty of signage design. Which graphic design plays a big part of. But it is definitely one part of our business - there are definitely many other aspects to our business. I think one of our key design philosophies is really that we are not just graphic designers, that we think about a project a little bit more holistically – it’s really about getting people around the building, having people understand the building. In the early stages, it’s working with the architects to make intuitive architectural moments in the building. It’s about understanding how light, and colour and architecture … even from the standpoint of the art program – how does the art program fit into the overall building? The result that comes out is that you need to design a signage project, and we designed a signage project. Part of that signage project is the graphics that are on the sign, but really it’s not about graphic design driving this ship, it’s about graphic design being a tool within the multiple elements of wayfinding."

Qasim Virjee
Wayne McCutcheon, Carolina Eyzaguirre, Elise Hodson, Qasim Virjee
March 2006
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2006, Design Exchange. All Rights Reserved.


Getting people from point A to point B with as little stress as possible is a big challenge in 3.5 million square feet of space.

Getting people from point A to point B with as little stress as possible is s big challenge in 3.5 million feet of space. "To give a sense of scale it’s 3.5 million square feet of space – it’s a massive space. It’s all about clear communication because, in many ways, it’s not a destination, it’s not like it’s a mall where somebody comes just to walk in, to get lost looking around at stores, it’s about getting someone from point A to point B in the most efficient way. So when we designed and planned the system we said it was all about efficiency and ensuring that we can get that person from their gate to their next gate, from their gate to ground transportation, or whatever it may be, as efficiently and stress free as possible. So with a lot of square footage the project, for us, entailed that we did the roadway signage, we did the parking garage – the parking garage was 12,600 cars, so a very big garage – the terminal, which is 3.5 million square feet, we did the infield terminal, we did the existing terminals. Overall I guess the construction budget was about 4.5 billion dollars so it’s a significant construction project. The number of signs? I think there were probably a couple of thousand wayfinding signs. I think the total signage budget for everything we have done there is probably approaching 15 million."

Qasim Virjee
Wayne McCutcheon, Carolina Eyzaguirre, Elise Hodson, Qasim Virjee
March 2006
© 2006, Design Exchange. All Rights Reserved.


Getting people from point A to point B with as little stress as possible is a big challenge in 3.5 million square feet of space.

Getting people from point A to point B with as little stress as possible is a big challenge in 3.5 million square feet of space. "We’re a sub-consultant to the airport architects and the airport architects are Skidmore, Owens & Merrill out of New York, Moshe Safdie from Boston and Toronto. I would say, on one hand, we were the lucky consultants and, on the other hand, I can say we were the unlucky consultants that were involved in all these different projects because the roads were done by one group, the garage was done by someone else, the terminal by someone else and the infield by someone else. So we were the only consultant who knew how they all worked and so we needed to make sure that all the graphic design communication was consistent. Because you wouldn’t want to tell somebody one thing in one spot and then communicate it in a different way in the next. Because we do weeks and weeks of planning exercises just going through the plans and trying to figure out what the routing is. And we were planning for the entire project for when all the piers are open and there’s elevven piers – there is pier F that we’re working on now, and there is pier G and pier H – and those things aren’t going to happen for years but we still needed a plan for those in the initial stage. So we did all this planning for stuff that may not be built until 2025 but we needed to think about that so that we didn’t design a system for the first phase that didn’t work for phase four."

Qasim Virjee
Wayne McCutcheon, Carolina Eyzaguirre, Elise Hodson, Qasim Virjee
March 2006
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2006, Design Exchange. All Rights Reserved.


Everyone has an opinion about signage.

Everyone has an opinion about signage. "I would say another big challenge is – because its signage and signage is one of those things that everybody can use it, everybody can see it, everybody can say whether they like it or they don’t like it so everybody has an opinion on it. That, by the same token, was a huge challenge for us because it was like managing the myriad of opinions that you get. I mean everyone and their brother would come to these meetings. We would have these sessions that would be like thirty people, forty people in this thing to see the wayfinding system and we’d think ‘wow, we didn’t know we were so popular around here’. The engineers on the project, the guys that were designing the heating and air conditioning systems, or designing the structure of the building, they would just say ‘this is what it should be’ and everybody would go ‘well I guess so. I don’t know anything about heating, or air conditioning or engineering so I guess that’s right.’ But for us we’d say ‘well here it is’ and they’d say ‘Oh, I’m not sure about that colour, or what about that font?’"

Qasim Virjee
Wayne McCutcheon, Carolina Eyzaguirre, Elise Hodson, Qasim Virjee
March 2006
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2006, Design Exchange. All Rights Reserved.


Entro Communications worked closely with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to ensure that the signs are as legible as possible, including for people with impaired vision.

Entro Communications worked closely with the Canadian National Intsitute for the Blind (CNIB) to ensure that the signs are as legible as possible, including for people with impaired vision. "The thing that we followed - you know this idea of yellows for departures, greens for arrivals, whites for services – that’s been around for sometime. So the decision was made that because Toronto is a fairly international terminal, well quite an international terminal – real jumping off point, or jumping in point for a lot of countries – that we would use that system. In the early studies of it when we first designed the wayfinding project for the terminal it was all white, all the text was white. We looked at doing this thing with the yellow and green and white we actually took it to the CNIB because we had some concern with the green with the CNIB because the green is a darker colour. We wanted to make sure it was visible for the CNIB. They actually really liked it because they said it gave more definition to the lines ‘well here’s the yellow line and I know that’s departures or here’s the green line and I know that’s for departures’. The CNIB were the ones who really responded quite positively to that. Then we said let’s take it one step further. We got 200 vision-impaired people and we built sections of the terminal in the hangar. We spent two days touring them around. We had different stations – we had them look at the electronic signs and then we’d have them look at wayfinding signs. We had people changing in faces for different coloured vinyls, different things like the illuminated vs. the non-illuminated and things like that. It was really – of my whole career – that was probably one of the most enlightening two days ever. Just to see how it’s really just about the simplicity of the graphic, making sure that people who are visually impaired can understand the information."

Qasim Virjee
Wayne McCutcheon, Carolina Eyzaguirre, Elise Hodson, Qasim Virjee
March 2006
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2006, Design Exchange. All Rights Reserved.


Travelling to other countries can be difficult if you do not speak the language. Instead of words, graphic designers use symbols that are recognized internationally.

Traveling to other countries can be difficult if you do not speak the language. Instead of words, graphic designers use symbols that are recognized internationally. "We always have an arrow then a position for two pictograms and then a word. This is because ideally the pictograms are strong enough to support what that is – whether is a departure pictogram or an arrival pictogram, a washroom or things like that – so we tried to use as many universal pictograms as we could. And also for things like gate numbers we’d have an airplane taking off and then to say ‘Gates 100-120 This Way’ and we’d just say ‘100-120’ because the word ‘Gates’ needs to be translated into English and French, it doesn’t mean anything to anyone who is from another country who doesn’t understand English or French. So we said let’s just strip it down to the most basic information that you need which is the pictogram and the number."

Qasim Virjee
Wayne McCutcheon, Carolina Eyzaguirre, Elise Hodson, Qasim Virjee
March 2006
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2006, Design Exchange. All Rights Reserved.


Wayfinding provides clues and patterns that we may notice subconsciously and that we use to navigate space.

Wayfinding provides clues and patterns that we may notice subconsciously and that we use to navigate space. "We did do significant testing before the airport opened. They brought virtually thousands of people through and they did these trials where they give them a fake airline ticket and they said ‘You’re flying to Vancouver. Find your flight’ and they’d set them loose in the terminal. If you ask somebody what does the yellow vs. the green mean? They probably couldn’t tell you unless they worked with us on the job. They probably couldn’t tell you but that’s ok because we think that it’s one of those subconscious things that your brain internally starts getting used to reading yellow messages or reading messages on a curved panel. [They see] that as a repeating theme and it makes it easier for them."

Qasim Virjee
Wayne McCutcheon, Carolina Eyzaguirre, Elise Hodson, Qasim Virjee
March 2006
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2006, Design Exchange. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Students explore contrasting views of citizenship and identity in Canada. They gain an understanding of challenges faced by new citizens in a new society and how design can respond to their needs. They also explore the concept of universal design, design that makes life easier for everyone regardless of size, age or ability. Students apply the design process through research and collaborative problem-solving. They engage multiple learning styles and cognitive skills; practice planning, organization, and interpersonal skills through group work; use current technology to research the problem and render their final solutions.

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