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Signs of the Times

Signs of the Times

The exciting new wayfinding plans for all TCC facilities

Imagine walking onto a college campus for the very first time. You’re greeted with bold signs that let you know exactly where you are and how to find where you need to go. As you continue your journey, striking displays guide you to your final destination. Upon arrival, clear signage lets you know you’re in the right place.

This is the experience that TCC’s Campus Character and Quality (CCQ) team hopes visitors will soon have on its campuses.

The CCQ team, consisting of TCC staff and faculty, was created as part of the College’s Three Goals and Eight Principles (3G8P)—the strategic roadmap TCC uses to guide decision-making that supports the student experience. CCQ is focused on creating a welcoming and easily navigable experience while using space effectively to maximize the student experience.

The CCQ team initially looked only at the brick-and-mortar buildings on TCC’s six campuses, but after listening to the broader community, they reimagined their charge as making TCC a destination experience—a place where students and community want to come and learn.

“Every student, employee or visitor should feel welcome and at home when they step on a TCC campus,” said Reginald Gates, vice chancellor for communications and external affairs and CCQ champion. “Part of achieving that feeling is making sure our campuses are easy to navigate.”

In Fall 2019, the CCQ team conducted campus surveys and interviews with both students and employees to understand areas of opportunity that can enhance the experience as people navigate TCC’s six campuses. Based on the feedback, increased signage, digital maps and enhanced wayfinding tools topped the priority list.

A common theme from student feedback was getting around campus at the start of term. “In my initial weeks of navigating campus, it was difficult for me to get my bearings due to the labeling of buildings,” said first-year engineering student Dean Jackson.

While the CCQ team was working on their findings, TCC’s Real Estate and Facilities department was leading the ongoing maintenance and assessment of campus facilities. This work identified the aging infrastructure of several campuses—some of which are more than 50 years old. This work to modernize existing buildings nested perfectly within the focus of the CCQ team.

Through a series of workshops with students and employees, the CCQ and Real Estate teams identified four key priorities to improve the on-campus experience: increase visibility of the TCC brand, create cohesive orientation and wayfinding, clarify connection points (like parking lots) and develop a consistent naming system, or nomenclature, for buildings and classrooms.

Navigating a Way Forward

According to Michael Tankersly, director of facilities operations and CCQ committee leader, TCC plans to make the process from “couch to class” as seamless as possible. With help from external collaborators Beck Architecture, Entro and Mapwell Studio, the CCQ team identified a user journey framework to guide the project: plan, approach, navigate, depart.

For example, a prospective student might plan their trip to TCC by searching for the address using a map application on their phone. As they approach their TCC campus, the student will want to know they are in the right parking area to access the building they need. The student could then navigate to meet with the admissions team or tour the campus using physical and digital wayfinding tools. To conclude their visit to TCC, the prospective student easily journeys back to their parking or pickup location and departs.

While everyone’s journey to and needs from TCC will be different, this new wayfinding strategy will ensure each visitor can get where they need to go easily.

The new look and feel won’t just make navigating campus easier; the CCQ team hopes it also will help students feel more at home. While each campus across Tarrant County has its own character, students should know they are part of the TCC family as a whole. As part of the College’s 3G8P, TCC aims to provide a consistent and successful student journey as One College. “No matter the campus you visit, the feeling of welcome and ease of access should be the expectation,” said Gates.

A Bold New Look

Using exaggerated dimensions, bold colors and modern typography, visitors should not be able to miss the campus signage. The new design elements aim to be clear and consistent across all campuses, while still leaving room for each campus to express their unique identity.

From the moment visitors arrive, orientation beacons and directional markers will greet them and, quite literally, point them in the right direction.

Instead of using acronyms for building names, such as NHPE for Northeast Health and Physical Education, building names will focus on simplicity with the campus identifier and building number only. This change makes it easier for visitors to understand exactly which building they are looking for, as well as increases facility flexibility as some buildings no longer house the courses for which they were originally named.

Karylliam Quintana Rodriguez, a third-year education student, thinks the new look will match TCC’s characteristics; in her words, “modern, clean, fresh.”

Beyond the directional and wayfinding signage, large monument letters will greet students on each campus. Lisa Benedetti, dean of humanities at TCC Northwest and CCQ committee leader, anticipates students being able to interact with the letters during their time at TCC.

Benedetti, along with TCC Northwest Life Sciences Chair Greta Bowling and TCC Northwest Student Activities coordinator Rachael McCloskey, was on a CCQ fact-finding trip in Utah and decided to take an unplanned excursion to Salt Lake Community College. Upon arriving, they immediately knew they were in the right place when they saw large letters proclaiming “SLCC”. The trio jumped out and started taking pictures and interacting with the letters. Soon they were thinking of how to bring that same feeling to TCC.

“In the age of Instagram, we hope these monument letters encourage our students to engage with the College,” said Bowling.

McCloskey envisions students taking pictures there while at New Student Orientation, on their first day of school or at graduation time.

Second-year criminology student Shanique Smith thinks the monument letters will drive people to take pictures and interact. “Even potential students, when they come for a tour, I think they will want to take pictures there,” said Smith.

Furthering the One College goal, the monument letters will be a common thread and act as the front door to each campus. No matter which campus a student attends, they will all get to experience walking by the letters as they begin their day at TCC.

The Real Estate team expects signage and wayfinding tools to debut on the Northwest and Southeast campuses, as part of their redevelopment through the 2019 Bond Program.

“We wanted to ensure that no matter where students or the community came to us, they would be able to find their way and be comfortable,” said Benedetti.

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