Wayfinding in Underground Transit Systems – London Underground v New York City Subway System



London, England and New York City are two of the greatest cities in the world. Both cities are served by an underground railway system that moves millions of people around every day. It is estimated that London moves around 1.2 billion passengers a year compared to New York’s 1.6 billion. So, which system is easier to navigate?

An analysis of the two system shows clearly, from a wayfinding perspective, that London is easier to navigate and winds hands down.

The journey may begin before you locate a subway station and you reach for your subway map. According to the Londonist, a writer for the Guardian named Bim Adewunmi referred to the New York Subway Systems as “the work of a sadist, cooked up in a fever dream and delivered with a flourish and an unhinged grin”. Regarding the subway maps she wrote that “The city’s (New York) subway map is dense and needlessly complex. Where in London the Central line (red) is distinct from the Piccadilly (dark blue) which is markedly different from the Hammersmith and City line (pink). New York’s map has designated the same forest green to the 4, the 5 and the 6 lines. The B, D, F and M all rejoice the same shade of violent orange. And I’m almost entirely certain the blue of the A, C and E lines is the last thing you see before death’s sweet embrace”. It seems to me that the Guardian’s writer was correct. Looking at the green line, it becomes very difficult to see if the 6 train stops at 32nd Street or not. You could easily get on the 4 expecting it to stop there and it does not. So, in my opinion – round 1 goes to London.

Picture1                Picture2

So, you are out on the street having consulted your map and you are looking for the Subway Station. If one were to ask people (who don’t live in either New York or London) to tell you what the Logo or identification of the London underground is, most people will describe it to you. On the otherhand the identification of the New York subway is not as apparent and well known. Ask someone how New York stations are identified and unless he a local he probably cannot tell you. The London logo is so prominent and well known it is easy to find a subway station while New York stations are identified by innocuous signs that blend into the visual noise of New York City and are invisible to those who are not versed at traversing the City.

Picture3                     Picture4

Further, while most London stations have a single entry point, this is not the case in New York. Uptown may be on one side of the street and Downtown on the other and if you are not familiar with New York you don’t even know where is Uptown and where is Downtown. So, round 2 goes to London.

Once you have entered the station, if not a frequent traveler you look for a map. The Londonist did an article on this subject and wrote that in a New York subway station “there isn’t much in the way of maps on the walls and the actual station name is often on a sign on the side of the cast iron pillars making it hard to spot”. The London system again has very large indication on the subway walls of the name of the station as is apparent in the picture below, giving round 3 to London.


Picture5             Picture6


In terms of identification in the station directing you to the correct line, again London seems to have done a better job. On the walls in the subway pedestrian walkways are very large signs indicating which line you are on, what are the next stations on that route and they are very clear as to which line you should take, for example, if you enter the subway at Piccadilly wanting to go to Queens Park, the large sign (as depicted in the picture, above, right) indicates very clearly that you take the South Line on the Train going to Harrow and Wealdstone (last stop) and that your destination is 9 stops away – very simple, very clear. Once again, the New York System has small, inconspicuous metal plates on the pillars at the platforms showing upcoming stops – round 4 to London.

London was also ahead of New York in adopting a digital signage system within the subway system. All platforms at all stations have numerous digital signs indicating the arrival of approaching trains – they have been quicker to adopt technology – round 5 in London’s favor.

The key characteristics that make London superior from a wayfinding perspective fit in with the wayfinding concept of IDRI. Those in the wayfinding industry are familiar with IDRI which identifies the sign types found in any facility – namely, Identification, Informational, Regulatory and Directional.  All the elements of IDRI are clearly present in London.

From an Identification perspective, the easily recognizable Logo and its prominent use as a key locator make London better than New York.

From an Informational perspective, large easy to read signs, both static and digital make London better and easier to navigate.

Regulatory signs including exits, emergency exits, are all large and prominent.

Finally, Directional signs within the subway station are large and easy to understand and a simple easy to read map rounds off the advantages that London has over New York.


Selwyn Josset 2016

The Key to a Successful Project – It’s All About Values

ASI – Buffalo State Signage

Recently the ASI, Buffalo affiliate completed a very successful signage project at Buffalo State College. The project won the Best of ASI Award. Andy Bernatovicz of ASI, Buffalo conducted a webinar about the project and attributed much of the success of the project and indeed all projects to the key attribute of values.

Andy drew inspiration from a book entitled “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann. Andy quoted three sentences from the book, namely:

  1. “Your true worth is determined by how much you give in value than you take in payment”
  2. “Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them”
  3. “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interest first”

But it was really the first quote that referred to value that inspired Andy the most. He feels that there are many go-getters but not so many go-givers and it is the go-giver that is more likely to succeed. Following on with his impression of value, he identified four key values that he believes are the cornerstones to securing a successful result in a project. These four values are:

  1. Your own values.
  2. Your value to your customer.
  3. Your value to your own organization.
  4. Business value.

Your Values

You have to ask your values are. What do you stand for? Andy identified the rocks that he stands on as:

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Openness
  • Patience
  • Being engaged

If he ends the day checking off each of the core values he feels that he has accomplished his goals for the day.

Your Value to the Customer

You have to ask yourself how many of your customers would fight to the end to have you as their partner. To succeed in having your clients fight for you have to bring them so much value. You have to go the extra mile for them. Sometimes its little things that make a big difference – just providing extra service, providing extra samples and consistency. It’s those little things that engender a sense of trust in your client. This sense of trust is what will encourage your client to allow you to continue engaging with them.

Your Value to Your Organization

There are some questions you have to ask yourself in order to determine your value to your organization. How easy are you to work with? Do you provide good information to your colleagues? Are you good at communicating with other people in your organization? Do you set a good example with regard to your work ethic?

Business Value

The keys to business value are:

  • Long Term Relationships.
  • Making a connection – face-to-face, eye-to-eye. E-mail loses the personal connection.
  • Be Kind.
  • Add Value.
  • Be Timely.
  • Anticipate!!


Selwyn Josset 2016

The Role of the Psychologist in the Wayfinding/Signage Process


Wayfinding in high traffic environments is a complex and challenging process. Consideration has to be given to all sorts of users and stakeholders. If one considers a healthcare facility, the users are extremely diverse – not only in terms of the reason that they are visiting the facility but diverse in terms of culture, language, level of education, age, sex and so forth and all these factors need to be (or should be) considered in planning for the signage and wayfinding in these facilities. Very often additions are made to existing facilities creating a maze and adding to the complexity of the environment.

Very often too, in the early stages of an addition, new construction or renovation of a complex facility the stakeholders will form a committee or task force to assist in the planning and the implementation of a successful wayfinding and signage system. Experience has shown me that these task forces/committees usually consist of the following personnel:

  1. A representative from the marketing department of the institution. With healthcare (or higher education) becoming more and more competitive the creation of and maintenance of the integrity of the institutions brand becomes a key consideration. Hence the involvement of marketing.
  2. A representative from the Facilities/Engineering department. The reason for the involvement of these folks is self-evident as these are the people who may probably be responsible for the maintenance of the system in future years.
  3. A representative from the upper management of the institution. The wayfinding and signage and the budget implications should require the participation of upper management – they are in fact the ultimate decision maker.
  4. An EGD and wayfinding expert. The EGD professional obviously need to be involved as the design of the sign system is critical to the requirement of integrating the design into the brand and maintaining the aesthetic integrity of the project and the wayfinding expert (if not the EGD) is critical to the objective of moving people efficiently throughout the facility in an efficient, effective and stress free manner.

These are all critical players in the signage/wayfinding process however it seems to me that there is an element missing. We know that navigating around a complex environment can be a stressful endeavor and very often this stress level can be significantly elevated by uncontrollable circumstances. A rush to see family members in a hospital, a rush to get to a terminal in an airport, a need to find a certain administrative room in an education facility are activities that occur to thousands of people every day. Jim Harding from GSP and Partners talks about the three V’s of signage, virtual, visual and verbal. One element that, in my opinion, significantly impacts the ability to effectively deliver the three V’s is the mental state of the user and careful consideration should be given to this.

Consideration of the psychological aspect can be accomplished by including an appropriate person on the wayfinding task force. I had an opportunity some years ago to be involved as a member of a signage/wayfinding task force at a very large healthcare facility in Atlanta, Georgia. The task force initially consisted, as is usual, of Marketing, Management, Engineering, Finance and an independent EGD tasked with developing the design, the wayfinding and selecting a vendor to build the signage. The facility consisted of some recently constructed buildings and some very old existing structures linked by complex, winding pathways, some below ground. Floors did not match – a path from the first floor in a new building may lead to the second floor of an older building and so forth.

During the early phase of the project the task force raised the issue of the stress and psychological factors that this complex labyrinth may cause to users and decided to deal with this from the outset as a critical aspect of the wayfinding/signage process. Consequently, the Task Force sought out and identified a person who was a Professor of Architecture and an Environmental Psychologist at Georgia Tech, Professor Craig Zimring, to work with the Wayfinding Task Force. Professor Zimring’s work focuses on understanding the relationships between the physical environment and human satisfaction. His input was significant. Using students from his department, surveys were conducted at various intersections, choke points, entrances and so forth at the hospital to try and identify how people felt emotionally when reaching certain points in their attempt to navigate the facility. Demographics were collected during this process which identified age, language and other variables to identify how certain demographic groups were impacted psychologically at certain points as opposed to others. The results of this study were carefully considered in developing the wayfinding and signage system. The decision to add a Psychologist to the Wayfinding/Signage Task Force was a very good one and ultimately proved invaluable in the development of a very effective wayfinding system.

Selwyn Josset 2016

5 Challenges that Arise During an ADA Retrofit

5 Challenges that Arise During an ADA Retrofit

For those contemplating a remodel of their office, one of the most important aspects of the project is ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The most recent comprehensive ADA Standards for Accessible Design were issued in 2010. Today, if a client is renovating an older facility, or even an office remodeled six years ago, they may think they are compliant by still referring to the regulations that were current when their offices were built. The reality is that they’d be non-compliant, and that could cost a significant amount of time and money.

Here are the top five points to keep in mind when retrofitting and remodeling:

1) Lunchrooms: Counters cannot exceed 34 inches in height at the sink area and must have a 30 inch wide clearance below for a wheelchair to roll under the sink. The challenge here is finding smaller, compatible appliances, like dishwashers and under-counter refrigerators. While more manufacturers are becoming ADA height conscious, at times sinks and the rest of the counters are installed at two different heights. The microwave must also be offered at ADA accessible height and not be placed in an upper cabinet.

2) Restrooms: Restrooms are one area where several new standards have been added. All toilets must meet ADA unless the restroom is accessed only through a private office, is not for common or public use and is intended for use by a single occupant. A few alternatives are allowed in this case but the restroom must be able to meet ADA standards when the alternatives are removed. Current code requires additional unencumbered areas. The toilet must be placed in a clear space 56/59 inches front to back and 60 inches clear space from sidewall to sink edge. The sink must have a 30 inch side to side and 48 inch front to back clear area and the same size clear area must be offered between the sink and the toilet. Numerous other revised requirements for accessory and grab bar placement are listed in the standards.

3) Door Clearances: There are two important factors about doors. All doors must provide a clear width of 32 inches and must provide maneuvering clearances for those in wheelchairs. There are several standards for maneuvering clearances but the most basic for a front approach is 18 inches clear space at the pull side of the door and 12 inches clear space at the push side of the door. The ADA standards cover all types of doors, including hinged, revolving, sliding, manual and automatic.

4) Built-in Reception Counters:  A typical reception counter is 42 inches high. But with ADA regulations, an area no more than 34 inches high and no less than 36 inches wide must be provided. From a design standpoint, the 34 inch walk up counter height means much more of the receptionist’s worksurface contents are in full view, which usually is undesirable from a privacy and aesthetic point. One way to alleviate this is to offer both the shorter counter for wheelchair users and a higher counter for able-bodied individuals.

5) Signage: Not all signs are required to be both visual and tactile with braille. Some exemptions include building directories, addresses, company names and logos. ADA standards list character spacing, style and size requirements. A range of 48 inches minimum and 60 inches maximum is now the standard height to the baseline for tactile signage.

While these are just the highlights for some of the most common components of a facility, there are many more requirements that need to be met. In addition to individuals in wheelchairs, other disabilities have to be taken into consideration such as those hard of hearing or blind. Before you start, consult your architect or interior designer. It is a much more prudent – and cost effective – approach to be proactive in design than reactive.


For more information:


Wall Graphics and Low VOC or Zero VOC Paints

Photo credit: John Selig

Photo credit: John Selig

There appears to be a problem that has, in recent years, reared its ugly head, the problem being that we have experienced some wall graphics failing in the field. After some investigation we believe that the most likely reason for the failure is that the walls were painted using a “Zero VOC Paint”. These paints have additives that adversely affect adhesives on most Adhesive Backed Vinyl (ABV) films.

Why are we just now seeing this?

This issue seems to have appeared in the last few years. So what we were successful with three, four or five plus years ago, will not work today.
This all seems to stem from the government regulating the reduction of VOC’s, especially in paint.
Industry wide, everyone is seeing complications and failures.

On investigation, the only source that provided a different theory, was the manufacturer, Orafol. A representative that we spoke with said that they typically see a rise in complaint calls from the Midwest area from November-March. They tend to think that the problem may also be with the dry air in the winter months actually drying out the adhesives in the films with water based adhesives. Essentially, the adhesives never fully wet out and can’t do their job. He recommended going with a permanent aggressive adhesive film (*see CONS below for Option 2) which has a solvent based adhesive.
(However, if this were the case, then why are just now seeing this? Interesting theory nevertheless.)

What do we tell the client(s)?

Based upon our research and feedback that we received up to this point, there are three options that we can put before our clients and each of them has pros’ and con’s:

Option 1

Digitally Printed Wallpaper with proper primer.
– PROS: Durability, Adhesion, Textured media available for specialty look.
– CONS: It’s wallpaper. It needs adhesion promoter/primer and goes up with wall-paste.
Removal…well it’s wallpaper. Can-not die cut lettering or shapes/designs.

Option 2

Use an ABV film with a permanent, aggressive adhesive (3M IJ39, Avery 2903, Oracal 3691, etc…)
– PROS: Cost effective. Installs just like any other digitally printed graphic. Can be contour cut to shape or for lettering.
– CONS: This will completely destroy the wall when (if) it is ever removed. It will peel paint and several layer of the underlying drywall paper surface. Client will need to skim coat the entire wall or cut out and replace drywall.
(*so make sure we put it in the right place and everything is spelled correctly)

Option 3

Re-Paint the entire wall where the graphics will be applied with Semi-Gloss Standard Latex (all other walls can be Low/Zero VOC).
– PROS: Ensures proper wall finish that we know will work.
– CONS: Cost to the client. Will the contractor adhere to the request to use a standard paint on a specified wall? Timeframe; must allow paint to outgas (cure).

What do we do?

Moving forward, when selling or proposing wall graphics we need to find out what the wall was painted with before proceeding.
The ideal scenario is to apply graphics to walls finished with a Standard Semi-Gloss Latex Paint (NOT A LOW OR ZERO VOC VERSION) that has been allowed to cure for a minimum of 7-10 days (30 days optimal). We have had discussions, or received information, from three of the major manufacturers and nine ASI affiliates. We have procured sample rolls of material and test kits coming in from a few of the major manufacturers in order to conduct tests.

Nearly everyone we have spoken with says that you must, in all circumstances, test the graphics on the wall first because what may work for one location (or paint brand), may not work for the next.

In addition, everyone also said that proper wall preparation is crucial to success. Most recommended a simple solution of water and alcohol mix (70/30 or 80/20 mix) to wipe down the entire wall, not just where the graphics will be.
Repeat prep 2-3 times and allow to dry before application.
Several people recommended a light sanding to the area to receive graphics, then wall prep.
Subsequent to writing the above we located the following very interesting video


Researched by Mike Douglas, ASI St Louis and other ASI participants

Is Your Emergency Signage Sending the Right Message?


Do your occupants know where to go during an emergency? A Facility Manager  who deals with the ins and outs of a building every day may know where every path leads and every exit ends up, but an employee who works only in one area of the building or a visitor who just happens to be in your facility when an emergency hits likely has no clue.

Protect them from harm and yourself from liability by making sure your emergency signage is accurate, current, and plentiful.

In an emergency, someone unfamiliar with your building will likely look for the familiar lit exit sign first. NFPA 101, the National Fire Protection Association’s consensus standard that governs life safety, requires either an internally illuminated sign wired into your emergency power source or a sign that’s either electroluminescent (doesn’t use light bulbs, but still requires power to operate) or self-luminous (relies on a contained illumination source that doesn’t need electricity). Paper signs and arrows won’t cut it – NFPA 101 requires a minimum level of visibility and illumination.

The code also requires doors, passages and stairways that are likely to be mistaken for exits but don’t offer access to the outside to be identified with “No Exit” signs

Remember to ensure any additional signage complies with ADA requirements, which include raised characters and braille, non-glare finish and high contrast for visual characters and pictograms, and international symbols to indicate certain kinds of accommodations. The guidelines mandate that tactile characters on signs are located at least 48 inches off the floor and that signs next to doors are posted alongside the door on the latch side. This ensures people with vision impairments know where to look for tactile signage they can read.

In addition to these basic requirements, additional mandates may apply to your facility depending on its unique exposures and risks, adds Donna Lynch, a senior consultant for Antea Group, an environment, health and safety management consulting firm.

“Not all facilities have an AED, but if they do, typically those have signage,” explains Lynch. “Not all facilities have hazardous chemicals, but if they do, there are regulatory requirements regarding signage for storage areas or places where those chemicals are used. Confined spaces also have separate signage requirements per OSHA. That’s related to emergency response – if you have a fire in a manufacturing facility, signage about where the oxygen and other compressed gases are stored would be very important not only to employees, but also any firefighters or emergency services coming on-site.”

Wall-mounted evacuation plans can be supplemented by – or even replaced with – paper versions that can serve as portable maps in case of emergency, notes Dr. Denise Walker, Chief Emergency Management Officer for Lone Star College in Houston. Make sure to check regularly that a map is on the wall at all times.

“Fire marshals today prefer something simple that occupants can snatch off of the wall. They can take it with them and follow the map to wherever they need to go,” explains Walker. “On that map, you need to show the locations of AED devices, other emergency-related devices, exits, and pathways to those exits, both primary and alternate. You also need to note a point of refuge for people who have impairments and need help evacuating. For example, would they go into a stairwell for that? If so, is there a phone at that landing to call for help?”

Whether static or dynamic, emergency signage must be decipherable by everyone who sees it – not just the employees working in your office every day, but also guests, customers, and people who might be in your building after hours

For more information:




Illumination Design Solutions for Architectural Signage

An Introduction for Understanding How Illumination is used for Brand Identity and Design for Signage

When lighting is added to signage, it is usually done for practical purposes – to ensure the sign’s message is visible at all hours of the day. However, with architectural signage and environmental graphic design, illumination takes on other functions. Traditionally, incorporating lighting into architectural signage for design aesthetics is used for:

  • Brand Identity
  • Environmental Design Accents
  • Wayfinding Assistance

Choosing the Right Lighting Solution for Illuminated Architectural Signage is all About Function and Need. Incorporating lighting into architectural signage can be done to enhance the signage design,promote brand identity,and improve wayfinding information. No matter what the reason,choosing the right lighting solution is important to the long-term function of the signage solution. The most commonly used lighting solutions are LED strings and panels, fluorescent tubes, neon tubes, mercury vapor lamps, high intensity discharge lamps, and high-pressure sodium lamps. Determining which lighting solution to use is actually quite easy if you adhere to the “form follows function” architectural principle. For example, it would be wrong to use strings of LED lights on a tall exterior monolith sign when a single mercury vapor lamp or a few energy-efficient fluorescent tubes will illuminate the sign.


Common Lighting Colors/Kelvin Temp. Typical Uses Avg. Lifespan
LED (strings, panels) White, blue, yellow,

orange, red, green

Letters and Logos,

Cut-letter Panels

10-15 years

(50,000 hrs.)

Fluorescent Tubes 2700-6300 Kelvin Cabinet monuments Up to 24,000 hrs.
Mercury Vapor 3300-5900 Kelvin Cabinet monuments Up to 24,000 hrs.
High-Pressure Sodium 2,000-2500 Kelvin Large cabinets 10,000-24,000 hrs.
Neon Tubes Red (default) with 150

color options using

argon, mercury and

phosphor gas

Channel Letters,

Halo-lit Logos

8-15 years (power

transformer lasts

5-7 years)

Kelvin is a unit of measurement for temperature and it is used for lighting.

For reference, 5,000 kelvin is considered the color of “noon day sunlight.”

Illuminating Brand Identity

Lighting architectural signage for brand identity purposes is usually about ensuring the organization’s color scheme is properly presented or ensuring the logo can be seen at all hours of the day. The lighting solution depends on the form and shape of the signage solution. Typically, LED strings are best for illuminating dimensional letters and logo signs because they conform to the shape and they can create a halo effect or light the face of the sign or a combination of both. In addition, LEDs are available in white, blue, red, orange and green colors, which helps when color integration is important. However, when internal illumination of translucent panel faces on monuments and monolith signs is needed, fluorescent tubes are still a viable option. Recent innovations in high-intensity discharge lamps have allowed this solution to also become an alternative to fluorescent tubes for lighting large cabinet monument and monolith signs.

When external spot illumination is needed, there are a variety of flood lamps and spot lights available which can be mercury vapor lamps, multi-LED embedded panels, and high-pressure sodium lamps.

Environmental Design Accents

When lighting is used as part of an environmental graphic design solution, the lighting choice is typically driven by the color temperature that the light produces and how the solution fits in the environment.

Common Lighting Choices for Environmental Design

  • LED strings or panels with diffusers to spread light
  • Neon tubes shaped to conform to the shape of the wall or a graphic design element
  • Fluorescent tubes behind color-tinted diffusion panels

Standard Kelvin Temperature Color Scale

stand kel


Wayfinding Assistance

The most important factor for effectively communicating a wayfinding plan is an architectural signage solution that can be easily seen at all hours of the day, regardless of lighting and weather conditions. Creating a sufficient color contrast through contrasting paint colors is usually the best way to ensure the wayfinding message can be seen.

However, when conveying directional and identity information is paramount, then a lighting solution should be integrated into the sign.

Using Light to Enhance Wayfinding Solutions

  • Exterior identity and directional signs should use internal lighting to create a sufficient contrast between the sign and the message
  • Interior directories and map signs in high-traffic environments benefit from internal illumination
  • Using colored light as a decorative accent on interior signage solutions is an ideal method for helping orient people within a multi-story facility


History Ingrained in Signage and the Flying Red Horse

History Ingrained in Signage and the Flying Red Horse

Considering the rich and impressive history of architecture, arguably going back thousands of years, the history of signage (as we know it) is relatively brief. In our business and industry we mostly look ahead as we appreciate, learn and apply new signage technologies, materials, and graphic methods, for a wide variety of applications. However, as time moves forward we encounter more opportunities to view signs from a historical perspective, and in some cases signs can tell the story of the evolution of a company’s brand or the growth and development of a city.


This brings us to the story of “The Flying Red Horse”, how it became a brand of sorts for the city of Dallas, and based on the Greek mythological creature “Pegasus”. Pegasus is viewed as a very strong, loyal and inspirational figure in Greek mythology, known as “The Winged Horse”, “Horse of the Muses”, carrier of thunderbolts for Zeus, and for his ability to make springs flow with the stomp of his hoof. So, in summary, he is viewed as one heck of a good horse.

A red version of Pegasus served as a logo and brand within the oil industry as early as 1911 in Cape Town, South Africa. In 1931, the company that eventually became Mobil Oil adopted the red Pegasus as its logo, as did its affiliate by the name of Magnolia Oil, based in Dallas, Texas. The Magnolia Oil Building was built in 1922 as the first skyscraper in Dallas and initially was the tallest building (29 stories) west of the Mississippi.  In 1934, Magnolia Oil had a large red Pegasus sign installed on the top of the building as a way to welcome attendees to an oil conference, so it was only intended as a temporary sign. The Pegasus sign was constructed as two identical panels measuring 40 feet wide by 32 feet high, and the two panels were spaced 14 feet apart, with a total of a quarter-mile of red neon tubing used for illumination. The 15-ton structure rotated on a revolving platform making one full revolution every 40 seconds. The following gives a good perspective of how it appeared in its early days:



The “Flying Red Horse” quickly endeared itself to Dallas residents and businesses, and became an iconic landmark and steadfast part of Dallas’ identity. Given the size and distinctive red illumination, this was the landmark that people traveling to Dallas would see first when approaching Dallas at night via land or air. The sign fell into disrepair in the 1974-1999 timeframe, and in 1999 it was determined that the sign could not be restored and was removed. A new Pegasus sign was then built with individual and corporate donations totaling $600,000, and the new sign was installed and lit in time for New Years Eve 1999, to bring in the year 2000 and the new Millennium. What began as a temporary welcome sign has become an important iconic symbol that helps to tell the story of an industry and the growth and evolution of the city of Dallas. The Magnolia Building is now occupied by the beautiful Magnolia Hotel, with the Flying Red Horse atop the building in his proper place along the downtown Dallas skyline.



Even the story of the original Pegasus sign built in 1934 has a happy ending. In 2011, 12 years after the original Pegasus sign had been last seen by the public, an elderly woman, whose father owned the sign company (Texlite) that built the original Pegasus sign, told the sign’s story to artist Jeremy McKane, who was captivated by the story and led the mission to locate the original sign. The sign had been crated and was moved to different storage locations in Dallas over the years, with a limited paper trail that made it difficult to find. Then, in 2012, McKane found the old sign in a storage shed at White Rock Lake in Dallas. The old sign even had bullet holes that could not be explained. However, the decision was quickly made to restore the sign for $200,000 and place it in front of the Omni Dallas Hotel in downtown Dallas. The sign was restored, installed and re-lit in May of 2015.peg4

So the strong emotional bond between the city of Dallas and its endearing landmark has rewarded Dallas area residents and visitors with not one but two Pegasus signs, giving us the opportunity to appreciate the history they represent and their continued role as beautiful and beloved Dallas landmarks.

Click here for Dallas’ Pegasus story with lots of great images and videos

Click here for a detailed story of the search for the original Pegasus sign

Digital Signage for Campus Wide Communication

Digital signage can do so much more than post sales figures or reminders about Casual Friday. Interactivity or integration with your network enables endless possibilities.

In fact, network integration is especially suited to campus applications, whether healthcare, higher education, or corporate.
Could your campus benefit from multiple digital signs? Take stock of your properties to determine where the most potential value resides.

healthcare campus, for example, could broadcast anything from simple seasonal allergy reminders to videos on wellness topics. Corporate campuses can show off accomplishments or inform employees of meetings and deadlines. Any type of campus would benefit from having an extra outlet for emergency communications.

For extra functionality, add some interactive touchscreen signage to the network – it’s useful for wayfinding and searching for specific information.

Hospitals typically search by departments – you have pediatrics, emergency, oncology, and so on. You have doctors, locations, or amenities. For an office building where you just want to show companies, however, it’s very easy to use a non-touchscreen because your goal is not to provide information on individuals.

If you have a smaller campus with a handful of buildings, you may want to make one person responsible for updating the signs as needed. Larger campuses or those with many departments, such as higher education institutions, would likely benefit from allowing separate departments to control what is shown on their individual screens.

However, appointing an emergency backup person who can override the departmental controls when necessary allows quick broadcasting in case of an emergency. This authority should also extend to outdoor signage.

Outside signage can give your campus a visual boost as well with proper placement. Useful locations include the main entrances to campus, student unions or other major gathering places.

Ultimately, the success of your signage depends on whether it draws enough eyes and supplies the right information at the right time, so faithfully updating it with current information is extremely important. Let it run dated content and you risk losing your viewers. It may be hard to quantify the sign’s positive impact at first, but fresh, relevant content presented attractively and displayed in the right location will draw eyes.



5 Reasons Your Signs Are Not ADA Compliant

ADA signs are designed, specified, and fabricated everyday. Some are done the right way and well, others are not.

image001The truth is that the guidelines for ADA signs are not that complicated. There are a few key aspects that all ADA signs must comply with and a few simple rules that must be followed.

The problems we see with non-compliant signs comes from one of two things. The first is a lack of knowledge and the second is simply ignoring the guidelines to meet a specific design ascetic.

Last year, I wrote a post on the increased penalties for ADA violations. The penalty for the first violation is $75,000 with each additional offense being $150,000, real money for sure. As a sign architect or designer, you have the obligation to make sure the work you’re producing meets the ADA guideline because it’s the law for starters and because you’re creating work that makes the built environment more accessible to people with visual disabilities.

Here are five common things wrong with ADA signs. There are others, but these five touch on the main areas.

1.Font: A Nasty 4-Letter Word

The word font can be one of the nastiest four letter words when it comes to design. I’m not sure why so many people ignore the fact that the tactile on ADA signs should be San Serif or the fact that the character size is regulated. The language in the 2010 Standard for Accessible Design is very straight forward.

703.2.2 Case. Characters shall be uppercase.
703.2.3 Style. Characters shall be sans serif. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.
703.2.4 Character Proportions. Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter “O” is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter “I”.
703.2.5 Character Height. Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 5/8 inch (16 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter “I”.

Compliant Font and Braille

                                       Compliant Font and Braille

Not everyone wants to use Helvetica for everything. I get it, although I personally like Helvetica. There are so many other ways to make your signs decorative with the use of color, shape, materials, etc. There’s also the option to create Dual Message signs where you can have the tactile blend in with the background as long as the same message is above contrasting with the background. This scenario allows you to use Serif fonts for the visual message.

703.1 General. Signs shall comply with 703. Where both visual and tactile characters are required, either one sign with both visual and tactile characters, or two separate signs, one with visual, and one with tactile characters, shall be provided.

There are several Exemptions in the code that refer to the requirement for Dual Message Signs. Read more.

2.KERNING: Do Those Letters Look Funny?

Kerning may possibly be the most hated part of the ADA. The new 2010 Standard says there needs to be a minimum of 1/8” between the two closets points of any tactile characters.

703.2.7 Character Spacing. Character spacing shall be measured between the two closest points of adjacent raised characters within a message, excluding word spaces. Where characters have rectangular cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum. Where characters have other cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the base of the cross sections, and 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the top of the cross sections. Characters shall be separated from raised borders and decorative elements 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) minimum.

When you think about it, this is pretty simple. The tricky thing is that some character pairs are naturally closer together meaning that in order to be ADA compliant, the character sets need to be spaced further apart than normal which makes the character spacing appear wrong at times.

The 1/8” kerning minimum also makes words long and causes issues with the size of the sign. The simple solution in a situation like this would be to squeeze everything together to make the word fit on the sign. This of course is not compliant and makes tracing the letters with your fingers very difficult.

If you think about it, tactile is required so people with visual disabilities can trace their fingers along the tactile to read the name of the room. The number of people that can actually read Grade II Braille is low thus the requirement for tactile

3.CHARACTER SIZE: Too Big or Too Small

The size of tactile is simple. The minimum height is 5/8” and the maximum is 2”. Pretty simple and not much room for interpretation. We often see this rule broke when the design doesn’t allow enough room for compliant Braille and tactile. This also happens a lot with certain frame systems.

703.2.5 Character Height. Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 5/8 inch (16 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter “I”.

The exception to this rule is with the Dual Message Sign. In this case, the tactile is allowed to be as small as 1/2”.

EXCEPTION:Where separate raised and visual characters with the same information are provided, raised character height shall be permitted to be ½ inch (13 mm) minimum.

A Dual Message Sign

A Dual Message Sign














4. BRAILLE: Is That Compliant?

There are many different ways to manufacture Braille signs and yes, you can make compliant Braille with all the fabrication methods. The 2010 Standard has a few specific codes relating to Braille which include the structure of the dot, the cell spacing and placement.

The verbiage regarding the shape of the Braille is very specific. The language is not written to include or exclude any materials. The language is a guideline for the shape and size of each Braille dot and cell.

703.3.1 Dimensions and Capitalization. Braille dots shall have a domed or rounded shape and shall comply with Table 703.3.1.

Braille Dimensions

In the US, signs are required to have Grade II Braille which incorporates 189 contractions and short form words. The condensed size of the Braille is ideal for the limited space available on most signs.

Title 24 in California uses different spacing for Braille. California Braille, as it’s commonly called, still uses Grade II Braille but the spacing between the Braille cells is farther apart.

The other main difference with Title 24 is the placement of the Braille. Both the 2010 Standard and Title 24 require the Braille to be a minimum of 3/8” directly below the corresponding text. Title 24 however sets a maximum distance if 1/2”. Both require the Braille to be directly below so no, you cannot put the Braille on the right side of the text no matter what.

The uppercase indicator before Braille is not often required, but since many people are not sure when to use it, we see it used frequently. The codes states that “The indication of an uppercase letter or letters shall only be used before the first word of sentences, proper nouns and names, individual letters of the alphabet, initials, and acronyms.”

5. MOUNTING: Is That Sign Too Low?

The 2010 Standard changed the mounting requirements for ADA signs. There is now a variance of 48″ to 60”. An important thing to note is that the mounting height of the sign is base on the height of the tactile characters above the finished floor. This means that the flooring needs to be factored in when determining the placement of the signs.

The code spells out most of the mounting scenarios in details. If you ever have a situation where you’re uncertain the correct location to mount an ADA sign, you should ask the local building inspector. Unfortunately as many of you know, different people have different interpretations of the codes, especially when it comes to mounting location.

Height Tactile Characters

703.4.1 Height Above Finish Floor or Ground. Tactile characters on signs shall be located 48 inches (1220 mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured from the baseline of the lowest tactile character and 60 inches (1525 mm) maximum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured from the baseline of the highest tactile character.
EXCEPTION:Tactile characters for elevator car controls shall not be required to comply with 703.4.1.

703.4.2 Location. Where a tactile sign is provided at a door, the sign shall be located alongside the door at the latch side. Where a tactile sign is provided at double doors with one active leaf, the sign shall be located on the inactive leaf. Where a tactile sign is provided at double doors with two active leafs, the sign shall be located to the right of the right hand door. Where there is no wall space at the latch side of a single door or at the right side of double doors, signs shall be located on the nearest adjacent wall. Signs containing tactile characters shall be located so that a clear floor space of 18 inches (455 mm) minimum by 18 inches (455 mm) minimum, centered on the tactile characters, is provided beyond the arc of any door swing between the closed position and 45 degree open position.
EXCEPTION:Signs with tactile characters shall be permitted on the push side of doors with closers and without hold-open devices.

Location Tactile Signs












Article published with permission from Mike Santos- Nova Polymers

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