Assess and re-design the wayfinding of the PATH, the 29-kilometre network of pedestrian tunnels beneath the office towers in downtown Toronto – one of the worst wayfinding designs ever (not kidding).
We learn how to design for architectural space by considering human action at the level of the decision; not just how many, but what kind, and in what sequence.
I began my site analysis by testing the existing wayfinding system. My first route was conducted by myself, but the second route I had my friend, Jessie, walk through the PATH while I took notes of her journey.
Top 4 Identified Problems
As a transitional zone utilized by many travellers of the PATH, Hudson’s Bay is a vast shopping concourse with little to no signage of navigating through either the PATH or the Bay itself. It is considerably a wayfinding catastrophe.
If an individual loses their sense of orientation, it’s difficult to reconfigure their sense of north, east, south, and west.
The lack of signage within the store forces individuals to base their sense of direction off of landmarks.
When navigating through the PATH, users always have an end goal in mind - whether it is to find a specific shop, get to a place as quick as possible, or to find the closest subway station.
Implement timings to indicate how long a user can suspect to reach a destination.
If the duration varies throughout the day, implement a digital interface to indicate the fluctuations accordingly
Researching foot traffic in specific locations
In order to gain a sense of direction, the PATH map is the most vital tool for its pedestrians, as it exhibits how to get from your current location to any desired destination.
The only piece of information that informs users how to determine their best route towards their destination
Inability to locate these such maps, especially in a busy concourse
Maps should be easily identifable - can be achieved through the introduction of simple signs on top to make it stand out from bright colours and regular ads
Identifying the Path
With many diversions emerging off the PATH, it is quite difficult to figure out if you are or aren’t on the PATH itself. Ultimately, its users should feel at ease when navigating through the complex path.
The PATH logo and its sign are easily overlooked, as their scaling is quite small
Their signage is usually sideways, not at its front - they should reconsider its scaling and placement
Developing a strategic plan for how to improve on the current conditions. This plan concentrates on the navigational infrastructure.
The Hudson's Bay
Since the PATH is not allowed to have signage within the Hudson's Bay, I am concentrating on the path's leading towards the retail store. This includes adding more signage near the entrances/exits, as well as including a map that informs you on how to navigate through.
Toronto Eaton Centre
Bay Adelaide Centre
One Queen East
Combining all aspects done into a designed system of signs and interventions that help users orient themselves and navigate through the PATH.
PATH Map Re-design
The updated signage increases clarity of the navigational infrastructure. The current location of individuals in regard to the signage will always be the boldest, and displayed on the blue panel above all else.
Following the blue panel, the signage will feature all proceeding buildings, in order of closest to furthest – the way individuals would encounter them on foot.
Last but not least, the end destinations would be written in the same blue colour as the top panel, signifying the end of the path at that specific location.
The blue colour is used sparingly, only when the most vital information is showcased. In respect of the low ceilings throughout the PATH, there were many design considerations that had to be taken into account. As a result, the point size of the typography on the signage had to be precisely adjusted to ensure its users do not encounter any headroom issues.
At major decision points, there would inevitably be a clash of signage when there are multiple directions for its users to pursue.
As the density of signage increases, the signs would be grouped together to avoid unnecessary shadows, and allowing it to be read from any direction.
As individuals constantly lose their sense of direction underground within the PATH - even with its current signage - the integration of an interactive map within the space will prove to be undoubtedly beneficial.
More engaging than two-dimensional maps, interactive maps will allow users to physically interact with their current location, locate nearby retail or food stores, and search for directions on how to get wherever they need to go.
This interactive map also features the option to print out a recyclable receipt, which entails every step of the way a user would require to take in order to reach their desired destination.
Site Analysis Presentation
Navigation Plan Presentation
System Development - Final Book