New Signage System

A new signage system – inspired by airport approach signs – will make it easier for people to find their way around the Washington University Medical Campus starting early next year. The campus includes Barnes-Jewish Hospital (BJH), St. Louis Children’s Hospital (SLCH), Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM), Goldfarb School of Nursing, the Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis, St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Shriner’s Hospital.

While the new system will not be fully implemented until the BJH Parkview Tower and SLCH expansions open, a new Washington University Medical Campus sign was installed on the pedestrian bridge over Forest Park Ave., prior to completion of the Forest Park and Kingshighway interchange September 1.

The system will help patients, visitors, prospective staff and others unfamiliar with the campus readily find the parking garage nearest their destination; get to appointments on time; and generally have a better experience navigating the campus. Improving patient and visitor arrival and departure is a key component of the Campus Renewal Project vision.

“The new system is designed for those who are least familiar with the campus, and we have been purposeful about making sure the priority focus is on patients and visitors,” said Bob Cannon, president of Barnes Jewish Hospital and group president, BJC HealthCare.

To create the new system, representatives from BJH, SLCH, WUSM, BJC HealthCare and Siteman Cancer Center gathered feedback from patients who come to the medical campus for care ranging from routine appointments to hospitalizations. It included patients for whom English is a second language, those who drive to campus and those who take public transportation. This PowerPoint explains the new system.

Airport System Design

The feedback helped inform a new series of wayfinding signs that will be installed along Kingshighway and Forest Park Avenue, as well as along streets leading to patient-care destinations. Similar to the naming of terminals and concourses at airports, a new letter system along Kingshighway — from A to F — will guide people to their destinations. (Refer to the chart and map below to see how the system works.) Large pylons will mark entrances to the Washington University Medical Campus and smaller pylons will mark the entrance to both Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals.

“St. Louis Children’s Hospital is centrally located on the campus, situated between Barnes-Jewish Hospital buildings,” says Joan Magruder, president of St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “That is why large signs and entrance markers will be so important, in terms of practical wayfinding. We want to assure parents we are going to make it easy and convenient to get to the right place.”

The airport letter system was designed to ease wayfinding and to ensure that patients and visitors can locate the right parking garage.

“One of the most critical factors in patient dissatisfaction is the frustration that comes from finding out you’ve parked in the wrong spot and now must either walk a long distance or move your car,” said Matt Lauer, guest services manager at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “People exiting Highway 64/40 onto Kingshighway see that 17-story hospital with the Barnes-Jewish sign on top and think they’ve arrived. If their final destination is the Center for Advanced Medicine, this can be very dissatisfying.”

“Entrance letters create a memorable and easy-to-follow sequence for entry,” said Jerome Cloud, principal of Cloud Gehshan, a signage and wayfinding firm that led the project. “Just like signs on airport approach roads there may be multiple destinations for each letter, but this straightforward lettering system helps visitors find their way. It will also help staff give the public clear directions.”

Naming Buildings and Garages after Streets

Another key aspect of the system is naming, and renaming, buildings and parking garages to include the street names on which they are located. (Refer to the chart below.)

The new Parkview Tower is located on Parkview Place. The Barnes-Jewish south campus, which includes Queeny Tower, the East/West Pavilion and various connected buildings, will be renamed Barnes-Jewish Plaza Tower –  located on Barnes-Jewish Plaza. Children’s Hospital already is located on Children’s Place.

Garage renaming will follow suit. The South Garage, with public entry from Barnes-Jewish Plaza, will become the Plaza Garage. The North Garage, located on Euclid, will become the Euclid Garage. The Laclede/Forest Park Garage, its main entrance on Laclede, will become the Laclede Garage, which also serves to simplify the name.

Names and addresses will appear prominently on all buildings and garages for Google mapping and mobile wayfinding.

“Displaying building names and addresses prominently on building exteriors will greatly improve wayfinding on our campus, a campus that can be intimidating for our patients and families,” David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for Medical Affairs at Washington University School of Medicine.  “The new system also eliminates the need to designate north and south campuses – we can simply refer to the name and address of each building.”

The new signage system is slated for installation late this year and into early next year. Communication materials will be created for all areas that communicate with patients. This will include templates for patient appointment reminders and directions. 

All WUMC partner institutions will be updating maps and directions on their respective websites.