In the spring of 2022 the City of Eugene began installing new signage throughout downtown Eugene, establishing Eugene’s first wayfinding system. Wayfinding is a method of using consistent signage to help residents and visitors not only navigate downtown Eugene, but also identify efficient routes to many key areas, landmarks and points of interest.
“Wayfinding is helping us stitch downtown together so that the market district, the river front, and the traditional core all feel like one cohesive space.”
-Eric Brown, City of Eugene Downtown Operations Manager
In 2015, through a multi-department effort (including Public Works, Planning and Development, and Library, Recreation and Cultural Services) the City of Eugene began working with key stakeholders including Arts and Business Alliance of Eugene, Eugene Chamber of Commerce, and Travel Lane County and conducted 120 interviews with residents and local businesses to identify key locations for this project. This wayfinding system is designed to promote local discovery, provide walking distances and efficient routes to key locations, and encourage the use of public transit to residents and visitors alike.
“Wayfinding helps people feel like destinations are closer,” said Brown.
Another added benefit of wayfinding is that these signs can help individuals find points of interest that they were previously unaware of.
“[Wayfinding] helps you understand there are things near you that you really didn’t know you were looking for,” said Kari Westlund, President and CEO of Travel Lane County.
One of the most unique features of the wayfinding signs is the intricate glass tops, created by local artisan Tim Jarvis.
“I was excited to present this particular version because it has 50% recycled objects inside of it,” he explained. The intricate glass tops are made using three distinct glass-making disciplines including ladle casting, sheet glass fusing, and the use of borosilicate. These tops were designed to be passively lit while reflecting natural light, bringing a unique look and color to the project, and helping identify the signs from far away.
“I’m such a proponent of art being for everybody, and to have something that’s going to be on display downtown, it’s really special to me,” said Jarvis.
A project of this scale required a lot of planning and foresight. Not just for where signs should go, but what should be on them. There was a special process developed to determine which locations would go on the signs. A two-step process was introduced to ensure that the included locations would fit the scope and scale of this project. Potential locations had to fit into one of seven specific categories to be considered for the project. Selected locations included public buildings and parks, historical landmarks, parking and transportation services, etc.
As downtown Eugene continues to improve, repairs and changes can easily be made to these signs thanks to the innovative design. Currently, there have been 89 signs installed, not including five interactive digital kiosks to be installed at a later date. Wayfinding signs can currently be found throughout the downtown area between Washington and Hilyard streets and as far south as 13th Avenue. Click here to see one of the maps used on a wayfinding sign.
The installation of these signs marks a significant step forward in making downtown more accessible and inclusive for all visitors, so they can engage with the wonderful and vibrant downtown Eugene community.
For more information about the wayfinding project you can find a series of videos here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/10673784