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New sign now displayed outside the ICT building.
Leya Russell/the Gauntlet

New signs point the way for U of C

University hopes to establish campus identity with new, consistent signage

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The University of Calgary is developing a new, contemporary sign system to replace older signage across campus to improve navigation and create consistency.

Third-year english major Katie Macleod, an exchange student from the United Kingdom, thinks new signs will help students find their way around campus.

"I got lost so many times," said Macleod.

Cygnus, the company hired as signage consultants, reviewed the signage on campus. The estimated cost is between $10-13 million to replace all signs.

Funding comes from the provincial government through various capital budgets. Currently, there is only funding to replace signage in new or renovated buildings.

Replacing all the signs will take a considerable amount of time, and no end date has been set. When new buildings receive funding for renovation and repurposing, such as Schulich, Science A and MacKimmie, the budget for the signs will be included.

Associate vice-president facilities development Steve Dantzer thinks it's an exciting initiative for the U of C.

"The signage across the university is old and in some cases out of date, and in almost all cases ineffective," said Dantzer. "We're just getting to the point now where we have what we call a schematic design."

The visual character of the signs has been nearly worked out and the project will include signs inside the buildings, outside the buildings and on the edge of campus, viewable when driving or walking by.

"What we're looking for really is a consistency in design, so that the signs become very legible and you can easily spot a sign from a distance, so they will all have a common character to them, a common design," said Dantzer. "We want it to look high quality and to be effective and last a long time."

The system will include a combination of finger posts, directional maps and potentially technology like qr codes and apps for smartphones.

This project will also help visitors by announcing when they have reached the campus, directing them to available parking, communicating where they parked and directing them to where they want to go on campus.

There is currently a trial run at the Foothills Campus, in which temporary signs have been placed so users can react to them and offer suggestions. There are also temporary signs in the Taylor Family Digital Library and the Energy Environment Experiential Learning building.

Students' Union president Dylan Jones said the project is about "more clearly defining where is the University of Calgary and what is the University of Calgary."

Jones said this initative is long overdue.

"We're very interested in using the campus crest and campus brand in a consistent and proper fashion so we're establishing the look and feel of the campus identity," said Dantzer.

The project will reinforce a brand for the university.

"The university is a confusing place to find your way around," said Dantzer.

Third-year English major Emily Edwards, also on exchange from the u.k., agrees with the project.

"There should be more regular signs," said Edwards. "The Craigie building is really confusing."

Dantzer believes the project will positively impact how comfortable first-year students and visitors are on campus.

"It will improve the experience of being on campus," said Dantzer. "We think there's power in having a consistent presentation of the information everywhere on campus in a similar fashion."

As each building was constructed, its own internal sign system was developed, which means there is currently no consistency across the campus.

There are also plans to put signs on the major streets such as Crowchild, 24th Avenue, 32nd Avenue and Shaganappi Trail to announce that people are driving by the border of the U of C.

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