Signage and wayfinding design, also called Environmental Graphic Design (EGD), is the discipline of creating communication systems that help people as they approach a building or public place, enter it, and find a destination within it. Nowadays, architects are utilizing topographic elements within the signage that has to go with a building. Architectural signage is no longer only a way to identify a company or location — signage is becoming an art of itself. The following are numerous examples of architectural signage from all over the world which stand out from the crowd.
Wales Millennium Center, Cardiff, Wales
‘In These Stones, Horizons Sing’ — written in both Welsh and English, this sentence makes a bold statement on the facade of the Wales Millennium Center in Cardiff, an arts center that holds performances of opera, ballet, dance, comedy and musicals. The inscription was written by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis, who wanted the words to reflect the architecture of the building. The Wales Milennium Center, designed by Capita Architects opened in 2004.
Minnaert Building, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
The Minnaert Building, designed by Neutelings Riedijk and added to Utrecht University in 1997, uses the letters in ‘Minnaert’ to form columns — making them essential structural supports for the section of the building that juts out over a bicycle parking area.
Fukutake House, Megijima Island, Japan
Fukutake House, a project started by seven of Japan’s leading art galleries, brings art to rural communities that tend to be isolated from it. Occupying a new location each year, Fukutake House reinvents itself annually, but its 2010 incarnation was more stunning than ever with a typographic installation covering the facade of the elementary school that the festival temporarily occupied.
Lentos Museum of Modern Art, Linz, Austria
With a transparent glass casing covered in words, not to mention the huge ‘LENTOS’ built right into the facade, the typographic elements of the Lentos Museum of Modern Art are integral, yet subtle: you don’t even notice the letters all over the exterior until you get close. It’s a fitting aesthetic element for an museum that displays, among many other works of art, typographic design.
House of Terror, Budapest, Hungary
Though it may seem a bit sensationalistic, the word ‘TERROR’, which features prominently on the building’s overhanging roof, is a fitting name for a building with a horrifying history that is unfortunately all too real. Budapest’s House of Terror occupies 60 Andrassy Street, a building that was once leased by Hungarian Nazis and also housed two Communist organizations. All three used the basement as a torture chamber, and many people died there. When the sun hits it just right, the cutout in the metal overhang casts a sobering reminder of the building’s history upon its facade.
Caltrans District 7 Headquarters, Los Angeles, California
Architect Thom Mayne’s firm Morphosis, which designed the University of Toronto Graduate Student Housing building above, also tackled the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters building in Los Angeles. “The large cantilevered light-bar connects the structure to First Street, and the forty-foot, forward-canted super-graphic ’100′ marks the South Main Street entrance. This layered sign, with its nod to Chandleresque L.A.’s Hollywood sign, denotes the building as an urban landmark.”
Museum of Modern Art, Queens, New York
One could almost say they can tell this building is the Museum of Modern Art from a mile away. Architects Cooper, Robertson & Partners won a 2003 American Architecture Award after they expanded a former factory in Long Island City into a satellite facility for MoMA. The firm not only emblazoned the museum’s logo upon the facade, but put it in lights on the roof.
The Cooper Union, New York
The Morphosis-designed Cooper Union academic building in New York’s East Village is so visually engaging, it’s easy to overlook the details – but the details, in this case, are just as interesting as the building itself. Designer Abbott Miller took inspiration from the font used for the sign on the original 1859 Cooper Union building to create a modern cutout sign on the new building. The font was also carried into the interior, descending down the underside of a stairway and even spotted on the vertical corner guards of the classroom doors.
Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, Vancouver, Canada
Don’t be surprised if you see tourists gawking at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver. There’s just trying to read the lowercase text that wraps around each level of the building. Liam Gillick wrapped the quote, “Lying on top of a building, the clouds looked no nearer than when I was lying on the street,” around the exterior of the building. If you happen to catch a cheap flight to Vancouver, visit the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel and take a look for yourself.
Parsons The New School for Design, New York
Parsons The New School For Design (known colloquially as Parsons or Parsons School of Design) is a private art and design college of The New School university in New York City. With more than 25 undergraduate and graduate programs, Parsons is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious art and design universities in the world. The school’s façade is beautified with its prominent name shining above pedestrians heads.
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