BY LISA HORNE, PLA
As the places where we live, work, and play have become more densely and more intricately developed, the need for visual cues to help inform, educate, and engage visitors has increased. Kevin Lynch coined the term wayfinding in 1960 during an era of unprecedented postwar growth, where new hospitals and airports required comprehensive signage and visual cues just for visitors and employees to find their way. Today museums, downtown districts, and high end retail centers include these systems as a matter of course, but they are less common for parks and trails.
Good design is intuitively navigable with wayfinding elements used to reinforce a sense of direction. For example, vehicular and pedestrian entries should provide a sense of arrival through the use of identification signage paired with carefully designed hardscape and landscape features. Identification signage, maps for orientation, and directional signage provide important enhancements to major trailheads, and mileage markers in appropriate increments generally improve usability of a lengthy wayfinding system.