New signs point the way around campus
A major initiative to upgrade the Blacksburg campus will make it easier to navigate and carry the Virginia Tech brand to the outdoors.
Virginia Tech is getting a new campus navigation system that includes building, interpretive, parking, street, trail, and other signs along with information kiosks and banners. In addition, maps, printed materials, and online tools are being updated to incorporate the new standardized approach.
“A network of kiosks, maps, and signs will guide visitors from their approach to campus, to finding parking, and then navigating to a specific building,” said Sherwood Wilson, vice president for administration. “The signs use Hokie maroon and a consistent design to highlight the university brand and bring a sense of place to the exterior campus environment.”
While the university’s buildings and grounds receive high marks, visitors often complain about the difficulty of navigating campus. Those with mobility impairments report trouble finding accessible pathways and entrances to buildings. Even first responders have difficulty navigating campus.
A recent study conducted by wayfinding experts Merje Design found existing campus signage severely lacking.
“As beautiful as Virginia Tech is, it can be an intimidating place to navigate, especially for visitors and new students," said Frank Shushok Jr., senior associate vice president for student affairs. "This project is a major leap forward in helping students traverse the campus and more quickly feel at home. The wayfinding system will assist those with accessibility needs more easily find an assessable path to their destination."
Another part of the project includes the naming of campus regions. Areas of the campus have had casual names for many years, and now those names will be formalized.
The Blacksburg campus will be divided into the academic, athletic, community, life sciences and residential regions. The Ag Quad and Upper Quad will continue to be used as sub-regional names. The regions will be used in maps and printed materials.
The plan to improve campus navigation was developed with input from the university community and the Town of Blacksburg and was approved by the Board of Visitors in 2012. It is part of a larger effort to improve the outdoor space on campus.
“Over the next several years we will be making a major investment in our outdoor spaces that will match the effort we’ve made with the new and renovated buildings on campus,” said Jason Soileau, assistant vice president of university planning. “We plan to build better paths, install modern signage, upgrade the landscaping, and make other significant improvements. Our grounds will become a source of pride, just like our buildings.”
WestView Companies, an alumni-owned Richmond based contractor, is building and installing the signs, which were designed by the Office of University Planning and Merje Design.
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.