Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is the public art museum in Kalamazoo. The museum houses galleries, a gallery shop, art library, art school, and offices. A major expansion and renovation in 1997-98 required a building signage system that included visitor orientation, wayfinding, and identification. The original single-story building, designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, and built in 1961, is a fine example of International Style architecture in Kalamazoo. Thus, every aspect of the expansion required great care and consideration.
The client wanted an aesthetically, architecturally, and historically sensitive design solution to identify all exterior and interior spaces and to facilitate orientation and wayfinding for all museum visitors. Quality, durability, historical integrity, restraint, clarity, and brevity were important criteria.
The design concept was drawn from the rectilinear vocabulary and geometric ordering of the International Style. The comprehensive design solution was based on a behavioral framework for understanding visitor needs. An integrated team of behavioral, design, facility, and sign professionals was assembled to assure seamless project management from concept through occupancy. Spanning 20 months, the phases of the project included an audit of existing signage, interim signage, focus groups, behavioral modeling, design, development, fabrication, installation, and a post-occupancy evaluation. A custom signage system that included permanent and changeable elements was designed to meet current functional needs and afford flexibility to meet future needs. The program included more than 150 interior, exterior, and parking signs and kiosks. The system of brushed aluminum and black components included manufactured signs and applied metal and vinyl letters.