8/07/2009

A map wayfinding project I'm working on

There's a local assisted living complex that has such a horrendously-designed building that it belongs on UMass's campus. This building rivals Morrill in its ability to confuse it's inhabitants (a UMass Amherst reference - the building was added onto... creatively...). This building was also built up in stages with poor coordination and planning from one to the next - the second floor in one part of the building becomes the third floor in the other end. In my short time there I have heard staff members comment repeatedly about how lost they are - one joked that she needed a GPS to navigate the place. I got lost a couple times while holding the blueprints in my arms!! The Morrison Theater is also the Morrison Meeting Room depending on which door you use. They started having to append 'north' and 'south' to every name because there's no differentiation between the northern and southern dining rooms or libraries or wellness centers, etc. The place is really elder abuse.

Example of the horrendous and confusing interior design - how many wall colors can you count? carpet textures?
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What they need is a proper wayfinding overhaul - the signage is horrendous, something only made worse by the garish and cluttered wall decorations. They need to strip off all the gaudy trim and artificial doorways that apparently cause problems for people with certain diseases like Parkinson's. The walls in each wing should be color-coded. The signs should all be redone in Helvetica at a much larger size and higher contrast colors. There should actually be signs indicating that yes, in fact the 3rd floor did just become the 4th floor, you're not suffering from Alzheimer's... There should be maps on all the walls - and well-designed maps made for usability and simplified with all the superficial crap eliminated, not simply copies of the architect's blueprints. And the original architects should be sued into oblivion for epic failure.

But of course that is well beyond the scope of what I'm being allowed to do... I get to design a map for the programming department to use to explain to residents how to get to their events. Yes, the situation is so bad that the programming department had to go out and get someone to make them their very own map! (and of course every other department immediately is interested in the project the minute they hear about it and want a copy for their own use!)

A HIGLY simplified first floor floorplan (all administrative offices, resident's suites & several full wings eliminated!):
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Even more simplified floorplan (many rooms moved and reshaped for simplicity - entire right angles eliminated):
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And as you can see, still far too complex to easily understand at a glance. Challenges: black and white only (color too expensive, gray tones too hard for elderly to read), not able to add signage at the locations thereby eliminating from the map

Cross-sectional map that she came up with as a starting point:
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Early draft of my version of her cross-section - still far too confusing:
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A poor sign that has be hastily amended to 'fix' confusion between the northern and southern hobby rooms...
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The first floor become both the first and the second floors:
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(with very narrow stairs and a poorly-located elevator even...)

whaaa???
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Even the elevator controls make no sense!!
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This is just plain dangerous - which way should I exit in a fire?!
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