In November of 2018, Snøhetta, in collaboration with DIALOG, celebrated the opening of the Calgary Central library. Included in the design was the wayfinding and signage system which reflects the distinctive design of the building and plays an essential role in creating a seamless user experience for visitors.
The design of the building façade was critical for establishing a graphic identity for the building, as it is the first significant encounter the public has with the library. Inspired by the natural formations like show drifts and chinook cloud clearings, the façade utilizes a unique geometry to describe or mimic these phenomena. This geometrical approach provided opportunities to create dramatic, highly transparent zones to attract public interest to the various programs inside.
A Signage System Reflecting the Building Façade
The wayfinding and signage system is derived from this façade system. It has a clear familiarity in its design expression to interlink the outside with the inside environment. The building, and its façade, is the centerpiece of the wayfinding, providing visitors with a substantial landmark in an urban context. A rationalization of the shapes and forms derived from the façade pattern creates a flexible yet coherent system which adapts to the varied needs throughout the library.
A Grid and Shape System
The wayfinding and signage design is based on a grid and shape system, derived from the façade pattern. The shape system consists of three shapes in different sizes, which all fit together seamlessly through layering and composing, enabling the system to convey the relationship between information with multiple means.
The signage reflects the materials in the library. Two tones of warm wooden surfaces are applied to separate information from each other. The wood is further contrasted by colored surfaces in lacquered metal. Together, they provide a visible system perceived as natural part of the architecture of the building.
Every signage element from written language on the corridor signage, to playful pictograms in the children’s library helps the visitors navigate easily.
A Playful Yet Informative Design
The signage and wayfinding system allows visitors to move efficiently through the building at all floors. The sign’s crystalline geometry catches the eye and its intuitive pictograms are easy to follow for children and adults alike.
The wooden signs reflect the architecture and interior, complimented by accent colors that make them visible while still blending in neatly with the library’s interior.
The library’s core goal was to ensure all members of the public felt welcome and invited into the building. This idea is expressed across all scales and details of the project, from the building façade to the wayfinding and signage system that is derived from it. Prioritizing access and legibility for all visitors, the intuitive wayfinding system seamlessly links the outside to the inside environment.
The Calgary wayfinding and signage system received a Merit Award in the SEGD Awards 2019.