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LSU signs

University Working on New Signage as Part of Wayfinding Project


BATON ROUGE – Many in the LSU community as well as visitors to the campus may have seen new signage adorning the LSU campus at the start of the fall semester.

The 13 temporary signs were part of the university’s Wayfinding Project, which aims to redesign the directional and informational signage throughout the campus.

Made from temporary materials like plywood and PVC pipe, the mockup signs were displayed Aug. 10 through Sept. 11 for evaluation purposes only. Additional corrugated yard signs were placed next to the temporary signs, indicating that the signs were not intended for navigation but for concept testing.

The signs were categorized by one of three areas: large-scale vehicular, small-scale vehicular and pedestrian. These include campus entry signs, building signs, street signs, parking designations and others.

LSU sign

Jason Soileau, assistant director of facility development, said that the goal is for signage throughout the LSU campus to be consistent and clear.

“There is currently a lack of consistency in the various sign types that exist on the LSU campus,” Soileau said. “From building, campus entry, parking designation signs, street signs, building signs and others, there is no hierarchy or structured order in directional signs.”

Soileau also said that the university is looking to create informational kiosks and map stations that visitors can use to easily find campus information.

“Currently, there are no informational kiosks or ‘You Are Here’ maps from which visitors can easily recognize and gain campus information,” Soileau said. “Additionally, there is no reinforcement of a campus identity solidifying pride in LSU among the community.”

In creating the new signage, designers and university officials took into account numerous factors. These include honoring the LSU tradition, capturing the cultural character of Baton Rouge as expressed in the recent downtown wayfinding system, eliciting the spirited attitude of both LSU students and fans and bridging LSU’s historical image with a forward-thinking vision.

To assist in the process, the committee invited LSU students, faculty and staff to take part in a 10-question online feedback survey on the signs’ color, design, font and readability. Soileau said that the public input was needed so that as many factors were taken into consideration before the actual permanent signs are constructed and placed. They were invited to do so through a broadcast e-mail sent to about 28,000 students, 1,300 faculty members and 3,800 staff members.

While only about 1,400 people took part in the survey, 76 percent of those who did so said they believe the signs are appropriate for the campus. Also, while 72 percent said they felt the signage showcases the LSU spirit, only 59 percent said they felt the signs reflect the tradition of LSU. Eighty-one percent of the responders said they felt the signs were clearly legible and 84 percent said the signs clearly inform the reader.

Survey results show that 43 percent of those who responded said they paused to review between two and five of the test signs, 32 percent said they noticed the test signs in passing, 16 percent said they paused to review one of the test signs while nearly 8 percent said they reviewed five or more of the signs.

When asked in the survey, 75 percent identified themselves as LSU students. Meanwhile, 17.3 percent said they were staff members, 7 percent said they were faculty members and less than 1 percent said they were LSU alumni.

LSU sign

Comments made in the optional comment boxes for each question spanned a range of opinions, from strong support to strong dislike. They included, among others:

  • “I really like the new signs. They are not only attractive to look at, but they have also helped me find my way around campus several times.”
  • “The maps are a good idea, but the signs in the Quad clash with the color/style of their surroundings.”
  • “These are particularly helpful for freshmen who aren't familiar with the buildings yet.”
  • “These signs remind me of an amusement park.”
  • “These signs fail to showcase the LSU spirit and reflect the tradition of LSU because they stand in sharp contrast to the beautiful Spanish-styled architecture that has set LSU apart from other campuses for so long. Incorporating the architectural style of the campus on which they stand would make these signs appropriate for campus.”
  • “These signs do NOT fit in with the overall feel of campus. We have traditional beautiful buildings and magnificent trees and the signs look like they were designed by a freshman design student.”
  • “These signs give LSU a modern look. A great update.”
  • “The signs do not fit into the style of LSU. They are too modern.”

The results and comments from the online survey will be taken into consideration when Boston-based architectural design firm Sasaki and Associates and the university’s Wayfinding Committee create the final project plan and present it to the Office of the Chancellor for review.

Sasaki and Associates recently served a consultant for the Baton Rouge Downtown Development District’s wayfinding project. The district received the 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award in Transportation from the International Downtown Association in September for its redesign, which included colorful, Creole-inspired imagery built to reflect Louisiana’s culture.

Soileau said his department will install the new permanent signage in a phased program, as funding becomes available.

Installing the new signage is also part of an overall master plan that aims to beautify and enhance the visual appearance of the LSU campus, Soileau said.

“Wayfinding can be defined as the orderly structuring and presentation of information needed to let people comfortably access a defined environment,” he said. “Signage is the primary tool used to communicate that information. Successful wayfinding is all about our clients’ satisfaction and ease of use. LSU’s clients are defined as students, visitors, faculty and staff; in other words, everyone who uses our campus. A successful wayfinding system should reflect LSU’s rich institutional culture and complement our beautiful and unique architecture and environment. This would be performed in a manner that removes anxieties for our clients; thereby, making their experience on campus more enjoyable and providing them a safer and more user-friendly environment.”  

Aaron Looney | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
November 2009