04-26-21 | Feature

Wayfinding Through Design

Georgia Institute of Technology
by Antonio Leung, LEUNG planning+design

The Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia retained Landscape Architects of LEUNG planning+design to create campus vehicular entrances with monument signage through a process of wayfinding studies and design. By illuminating entry pylons from an interior LED array, visitors are welcomed into the campus from five primary entrances.
Rolled aluminum panels 1/4" thick were fabricated, covered with an acrylic polyurethane brushed aluminum finish. The letters of the campus name were routed through the metal and a custom 3" x 3" aluminum extrusion runs vertically along the sides of the pylons with a A 1/4 " thick formed translucent gold plexiglass set over the space. Installed with a concrete base and square steel post in the center, the lighted entry monuments were designed with a high intensity LED array that could be removed from the top of the pylon. The array was fabricated in sections to allow for easier removal.
Through wayfinding studies, the placement and orientation of the monuments were carefully selected for their high visibility from the road and the conditions of the existing site. The design of the campus entrances also included improvements to the surrounding hardscape and landscape. Retaining walls and granite curbs were installed and matched to existing campus curbs. Native trees such as red maple, southern magnolia, and dogwood were also planted.

Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT) is a well-established institute of higher learning in Atlanta, Georgia. With a desire to define, enhance, and understand the opportunities and constraints of the primary vehicular entrances to the campus, GIT engaged landscape architecture firm LEUNG planning+design as part of a multidisciplinary team of consultants. The project was conducted in two phases and included the design and placement of monument signage at each of the five primary entrances.
The initial step was the beginning of a platce-making process. The concept design was prepared as part of developing a thorough understanding of Georgia Tech's development goals and objectives, administrative, and economic realities.

A reconnaissance and inventory of the sites and adjacent areas was developed to understand each area's opportunities and constraints, including consideration of material, theme, branding, and examples of gateway design at peer institutions as well as vandalism concerns. The analysis was conducted to include a detailed review of existing conditions of each site, and document the conditions of the existing signs, orientation, and visibility from roadways and sidewalks, landscape, and lighting conditions.

It was important to make a distinction between wayfinding on and around campus in familiar settings versus wayfinding for the first-time visitor in unfamiliar settings. In familiar settings, individuals already know
the route and thus can navigate with ease to reach their destinations. For the first time visitor in an unfamiliar environment, individuals need more information to make the appropriate decisions, and therefore the design and presentation of information becomes critical.

Phase One of the project was to implement primary vehicular entrances to the William Street, Tech Parkway, and McCamish Pavilion campus entrances. Phase Two included Means and Marietta Street, and Hemphill and 10th Street entrance locations.

Project Scope of Services
Scope of services included schematic design, design development, construction documents, and construction observation including providing input during bidding and award of contract.

The consultant team developed the site design of the placement and orientation of the pylons, the site's electrical associated with power to each project location, and the structural engineering for the pylon concrete footings. Improvements to the surrounding hardscape such as sidewalks was also included as well as the design of retaining walls, plantings, and irrigation in the surrounding areas of the monuments. The team worked collaboratively with GIT throughout the entire process.

Schematic Design
Based on the site survey and findings of geotechnical test boring, the team explored design options and developed a schematic design through studies and relational diagrams for the placement of proposed entry pylons, taking into consideration the existing site features and requirements of other program elements. Alternative design concepts were developed and evaluated, and based on the identified design, a scaled schematic design plan was created illustrating the form and configuration of the proposed improvements on the site. Key materials were then selected preliminarily, and construction detail designs were prepared.

Design Development
Once the schematic design was approved by GIT, the consultant team refined and sufficiently detailed the proposed form of the improvements to fully convey the design intent through a design development package for each location. The proposed number and placement and orientation of pylons was detailed as well as designs for the hardscape including civil, structural, electrical, landscape and irrigation, and opinion of construction costs.

As seen in LASN magazine, April 2021.


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