Blog – spatial direction and identity: wayfinding within a campus refresh

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How can we help you find your way in a new environment if we’re not there to show you around? Entry features, signs, maps, landmarks, and directories can support visitors to arrive at their destinations with clarity and ease. In addition, wayfinding elements can unify a site through color, font, scale, and visual character, giving a place a unique identity that says,

“You’re here”.


Gates + Associates recently worked with Sodexo, a facilities management company, on the San Ramon Valley Conference Center campus. The Conference Center, situated on a beautiful and secure 16 -acre campus, is the location for corporate events, business retreats, workshops, celebrations, and conferences. It provides a unique environment as a full-service conference facility with boutique style lodging.


In addition to redesigning two interior courtyards and refreshing perimeter landscaping, Gates was tasked to design the Center’s identity signage as well as create the vehicular and pedestrian wayfinding program. Design, color, and legibility were important elements to ensure effective graphic communication, particularly as visitors often arrive at late hours.


In light of building colors and site character, Gates studied the branding colors, created the project’s logotype, and evaluated the path of travel. Gates strategically located signage near entries, formal gathering spaces, and key areas related to pedestrian destinations and vehicular access. One of the goals was to create distinctive forms in contrast to the common signage and wayfinding elements that were being replaced.


The improvements speak for themselves. Campus image and access improved significantly because of this project! The variety of wayfinding signage establishes a refreshed, vibrant feel throughout the Campus. The new building colors and wayfinding system make the San Ramon Valley Conference Center unique and inviting while helping visitors get where they need to go. People use the courtyards more than ever and visitors clearly know where to find the front door. “From the small name on the parking lot vehicular wayfinding to the clearly defined entry signage, there has been positive feedback particularly by new visitors”, says Facility Manager, Cody Walton.


Prior to the update, this campus’ color scheme and roofing was dated, lawns were unused, and furniture was generic or non-existent. With its image upgraded, the Center is expanding its operations beyond in-house groups by pursuing external parties for multi-day events. Sodexo is planning to refresh two additional courtyards, and Gates + Associates is looking forward to continuing to polish and unify these spaces through elegant and efficient wayfinding and creative design strategies.

Article written by: Ana Dominguez & Valerie Conant