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New signage system to simplify wayfinding on Medical Campus

Inspired by navigational signs outside airports, signs will be installed in coming months

September 27, 2017

Cloud Geshan

A new signage system – inspired by navigational signs outside airports – will make it easier for people to find their way around the Washington University Medical Campus starting early next year.

While the new system will not be fully implemented until the Barnes-Jewish Hospital (BJH) Parkview Tower and the St. Louis Children’s Hospital (SLCH) expansions open, a new Washington University Medical Campus sign was installed on the pedestrian bridge over Forest Park Avenue prior to completion of the Forest Park and Kingshighway interchange in late August.

The system will help patients, visitors, prospective staff and others unfamiliar with the campus readily find the parking garages nearest their destinations; get to appointments on time; and generally have a better experience navigating the campus.

“The new system is designed for those who are least familiar with the campus, and we have been purposeful about making sure the priority focus is on patients and visitors,” said Bob Cannon, president of BJH and group president of BJC HealthCare.

To create the new system, representatives from BJH, SLCH, Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM), BJC HealthCare and Siteman Cancer Center gathered feedback from patients who come to the Medical Campus for care ranging from routine appointments to hospitalizations. It included patients for whom English is a second language, those who drive to campus and those who take public transportation.

Airport system design

The feedback helped inform a new series of wayfinding signs that will be installed along Kingshighway and Forest Park Avenue, as well as along streets leading to patient-care destinations. Similar to the naming of terminals and concourses at airports, a new letter system along Kingshighway — from A to F — will guide people to their destinations. Large pylons will mark entrances to the Medical Campus and smaller pylons will mark the entrance to Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals.

“St. Louis Children’s Hospital is centrally located on the campus, situated between Barnes-Jewish Hospital buildings,” said Joan Magruder, president of SLCH. “That is why large signs and entrance markers will be so important, in terms of practical wayfinding. We want to assure parents we are going to make it easy and convenient to get to the right place.”

The airport letter system was designed to ease wayfinding and to ensure that patients and visitors can locate the right parking garage.

“One of the most critical factors in patient dissatisfaction is the frustration that comes from finding out you’ve parked in the wrong spot and now must either walk a long distance or move your car,” said Matt Lauer, guest services manager at BJH. “People exiting Interstate 64/Highway 40 onto Kingshighway see that 17-story hospital with the Barnes-Jewish sign on top and think they’ve arrived. If their final destination is the Center for Advanced Medicine, this can be very dissatisfying.”

Entrance letters create a memorable and easy-to-follow sequence for entry, said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean at WUSM. “Just like signs on airport approach roads, there may be multiple destinations for each letter, but this straightforward lettering system helps visitors find their way. It also will help staff give the public clear directions.”

Cloud Geshan
The illustration shows examples of new signs that will be installed on the Medical Campus. Click on the image for a close-up view.

Naming of buildings, garages

Another key aspect of the system is naming, and renaming, buildings and parking garages to include the street names on which they are located. (See guide below.)

The new Barnes-Jewish Parkview Tower is located on Parkview Place. The Barnes-Jewish south campus, which includes Queeny Tower, the East/West Pavilion and various connected buildings, will be renamed Barnes-Jewish Plaza Tower – located on Barnes-Jewish Plaza. Children’s Hospital already is located on Children’s Place.

Garage renaming will follow suit. The South Garage, with public entry from Barnes-Jewish Plaza, will become the Plaza Garage. The North Garage, located on Euclid, will become the Euclid Garage. The Laclede/Forest Park Garage, its main entrance on Laclede, will become the Laclede Garage, which also serves to simplify the name.

Names and addresses will appear prominently on all buildings and garages for Google mapping and mobile wayfinding. The new system also eliminates the need to designate north and south campuses.

The new signage system is slated for installation this fall and into early next year. A communications toolkit will be available to all campus partners to ensure consistent vocabulary is used when providing appointment confirmations, whether verbal, by mail or text messaging.

Communication materials are being created for all areas that communicate with patients. This will include templates for patient confirmation letters, text messages, verbal directions and appointment confirmations.  A new Campus Renewal “On the Move” internal website is under development and will house all of the materials.

All WUMC partner institutions will be updating maps and directions on their affiliated websites.

Your guide to the new signs

Lettered, airport-style signs will guide visitors to the correct parking garage for their destination.


Barnes-Jewish Plaza Tower
formerly East & West Pavilions /
South Campus

Park at: Plaza Garage
formerly South Garage

Enter from: Barnes-Jewish Plaza
formerly Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza


Barnes-Jewish Charles F. Knight
Emergency & Trauma Center

Park at: Emergency Department Garage

Enter from: Kingshighway Boulevard


St. Louis Children’s Hospital

Park at: Children’s Hospital Visitor Garage

Enter from: Children’s Place


Parkview Tower

Park at: Parkview Garage

Enter from: Parkview Place


Siteman Cancer Center,
Center for Advanced Medicine

Park at: Euclid Garage
formerly North Garage

Enter from: Forest Park Avenue


Center for Outpatient Health

Park at: Laclede Garage
formerly Forest Park / Laclede Garage

Enter from: Laclede Avenue

The lettered signs will be installed along Kingshighway Boulevard, where people who have exited Interstate 64/Highway 40 can easily see them.

Click map to enlarge.