Students are now able to use the colorful new Wayfinding signs to locate a specific building among the 197 structures on the University of New Mexico's main campus. It's a big change from the former system in which signs were posted in front of buildings on campus, but the only way to find the building was to use a printed version of the UNM map.
This change was long in coming. In September 2002, the university issued a Request for Proposals and the search for a signage solution began. The web version of the campus map came from that contract, along with a report in 2003 that outlined a signage system. Lack of money forced planners to set it aside until means could be found to construct the signs.
Opportunity knocked in 2006 when Vice President for Finance and Administration David Harris worked out an agreement with student leaders to add a small amount to student fees each year to finance needed infrastructure improvements to the university. Included in that agreement was more than $2 million for Wayfinding signs on campus. The bonds were issued, student fees were increased, and the campus map was redesigned. The Planning and Campus Development Department worked with local architects to design the actual signs.
By 2009, they were ready to go, but the national economy was tanking and no one at UNM wanted to spend money for new signs while department budgets and campus repair funds were being slashed. So the signs were postponed. Campus planners brought the question back to the UNM Board of Regents in April of 2010, but the regents were reluctant to spend money on a new Wayfinding system while the economic health of the university was still uncertain. They did grant permission to spent $500,000 on the university mapping, Wayfinding system, and new bicycle and pedestrian safety signage, but decided to re-appropriate $1.5 million for other uses in the university.
UNM has used metal and wood turquoise signs in front of buildings since 1974. They generally would last for a couple of years before they began to crack, splinter and fade. The turquoise signs often did not have street addresses required by emergency responders and did not meet ADA requirements. Last spring, UNM began to replace the turquoise signs with silver and black signs that do have street addresses as well as building names and numbers that meet the need of emergency responders, as well as ADA requirements. The grey signs are considered transitional. When more money is appropriated, the signs will be replaced by the monument type signs now located at some buildings.
The $500,000 the Board of Regents allowed Planning and Campus Development to spend is being used to replace the old turquoise signs with the silver and black signs in front of buildings and for the cherry and silver directional or Wayfinding signs. In August, crews began to install the new Wayfinding system directing the way to parking garages, specific buildings and important features throughout the campus. Over 60 percent of the signs have been installed already and the rest should be complete by the end of the semester.
Students are getting a good deal for their investment. Mary Kenney, UNM's chief planning officer, says each student will pay about $.82 this year from student fees for the signs, also feedback has been overwhelmingly positive about the new ‘You Are Here' maps and Wayfinding signage that help new students, families, visitors to campus, faculty and staff find their way around.
For more, see Slideshow of Wayfinding signs.
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