Showing the way, with safety in mind
Campus Safety and Project Management and Construction Services (PMCS) are working together on projects that use wayfinding concepts to help make people feel safe and find locations easily. Four projects supporting campus navigation are currently in the works, with expected completion dates of February 2020. Once in place, wayfinding signage will support a reassuring sense of direction to people on main campus and the J.J. Pickle Research Campus (PRC).
“This is part of the ideology from the 2016 DPS [Department of Public Safety] audit. People feel safer when they know where they are going and can navigate their routes easily,” said Jimmy Johnson, assistant vice president for Campus Safety. “We have looked at ways to take advantage of programs that are already in place, such as the wayfinding project in PMCS. We worked together to design models and provided funding to expand those programs, which offer solutions to community concerns.”
Frauke Bartels, project manager and graphics designer for PMCS, added that “with the help of DPS funding, we are able to add a significant number of signs to the exterior wayfinding system on the UT campus.”
Seventeen safety kiosks, housing emergency call boxes with cameras, emergency information and map signage, will be installed at exits of main campus parking garages. A pilot of this project, installed outside of Brazos Garage, received positive feedback and offered the campus community and visitors a chance to plan their route before heading out on campus. “Since most visitors to campus park in the garages, strategically placing signs where they walk out of the garages makes UT a more visitor-friendly campus,” said Darren Hale, interim associate vice president for Campus Planning and Facilities Management.
More opportunities for easy navigation include campus map stanchion signs and pedestrian directional signs. These support a rapid navigation concept for individuals without relying on technology. Twenty-four of each sign type will be installed across main campus at key locations, including areas near bus-stops, residential halls and intersections. “The various types and placement of signage allow us to meet a variety of navigational needs,” Hale said.
In addition, numerical addresses and street signs are being installed at PRC. This project mirrors City of Austin code requirements and makes it easy for first responders to find locations during an emergency. Buildings will have visible numerical addresses, and street signs will include hundred-block numbers.
Bartels stressed that wayfinding signage is particularly important in complex, ever-changing built environments such as large educational campuses like UT Austin. Visual cues that help guide people to their destination contribute to a sense of safety and security. “The improvements to pedestrian signage have also become more important as the core campus has transitioned to pedestrian-priority with the Speedway Mall,” she noted.
Through collaboration, the university has taken the DPS audit recommendations and incorporated ways of improving safety measures on campus by promoting a sense of familiarity. Building on resources and programs already available, the Campus Safety and PMCS partnership is providing students, faculty, staff and visitors with safer, less stressful navigation.