Wandering To Wayfinding
UHD Launches New Signage System In One Main Complex
By Laura Wagner
“Not all who wander are lost.”
When J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that famous line, he was clearly not thinking about the University of Houston-Downtown's One Main (OM) Complex, where wandering individuals are nearly always lost. But thanks to UHD's Wayfinding Project, wanderers of the OM Complex will soon transform into wayfinders.
“Wayfinding” is an information and signage system that enables individuals to guide themselves through physical environments efficiently. The University’s Wayfinding Project includes new exterior and interior signage for the One Main Complex, which includes the One Main Building, Academic Building, Girard Street Building, Welcome Center, and associated parking garages. The goal is to help the campus community find a destination without the stress of getting lost along the way.
“We’ve heard for years from new students, new faculty and staff, and visitors that they find it confusing to get around the One Main Complex. They’re late for classes, events, or meetings, and it’s frustrating,” said Tuyet “Snow” Huynh, Facilities Analyst. “The new exterior signage will help with navigation onto campus and into parking areas, then point individuals toward building entrances. Once they’re inside the buildings, we also need to make it easy for them to get to their ultimate destination.”
To develop a system tailored to the unique characteristics of the OM Complex, UHD partnered with Harrison Kornberg Architects (HKA), specialists in the design of educational projects. In Phase I, HKA worked with UHD Administration and Facilities Management to design exterior and interior wayfinding approaches that will create clear paths to destinations around and within the Complex.
Complete details of the proposed changes, including parking garage signage and before and after mockups, can be viewed by downloading the file at the end of this article.
The permanent exterior changes, which include identification signage for four entry points into the Complex, are currently being installed. Some of the changes will be completed prior to the first day of the Fall semester, Aug. 22. Others will be delayed until after classes start to avoid creating traffic issues the first week of school.
“The exterior upgrades will make navigation clearer for everyone coming to campus, whether to drop students off or to attend an event,” said Huynh. “Having signage on Travis Street will let people know they’re getting close to UHD and prompt them to turn right on Girard. Having ground-level signage will help steer them to the right parking area and entrance.”
The interior component of the project will be completed in two stages: temporary and permanent.
“A key focus of this part of the process will be soliciting input from the entire campus community. We’re starting with temporary signs for certain areas, like directories and elevator signs, while we gather feedback,” Huynh explained.
To ensure students, faculty, and staff have an opportunity to weigh in, the temporary signage will be installed throughout the third floor and in the OM Complex elevators. Input from building users will be gathered for one month via a QR code survey, and feedback received will be shared both during the survey period and after it is completed. HKA will then work with UHD to incorporate feedback into the interior signage system before the final design is permanently installed in Phase II of the project.
“First and foremost, we want to ensure the new wayfinding system works as intended,” said Huynh. “That means we need to hear from the people using the facilities. Their input will ultimately help every individual who comes to campus have a better experience, so it’s very important that we get feedback from as many people as possible.”
More information about the survey will be shared in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.