Gateways: purpose and considerations
Creating a sense of arrival is a fundamental expression of identity and welcome. The most impactful gateways have architectural or cultural significance, create anticipation and enhance the experience of place. The settings for gateways must also be designed, so CG often collaborates with lighting designers, engineers and landscape architects to achieve the most exciting and integrated outcome.
CG has designed a number of gateways for universities, cities, towns and medical centers. Because their design is closely connected to context, they vary widely in their form and complexity. We are especially adept at using scale models, mockups and visualization tools to communicate design intent to our clients.
Where are gateways placed?
Gateways or identification markers may designate a physical portal, indicate a perimeter or be located in a campus or town center; they might mark a central avenue. No matter the setting they are a tangible symbol of identity and brand. Gateways also have great value as orientation devices, acting both as landmarks and illuminated beacons at night.
What options do we have?
Entrance markers and portals take many forms; they can be permanent and monumental or temporary and ephemeral. They can be static or digital, carved or animated, dramatic or restrained. Their materials must be appropriate to context, climate, lifespan and purpose. In every project, we look at the opportunities and constraints presented by each aspect:
– location: viewing angles and sightlines, whether the gateway will be landscaped, hardscaped, or mounted to a building
– regulatory: limitations based on permitting, local sign codes, and rights-of-way
– lifespan: whether a more permanent or changeable solution is desired
– message and brand: shape and configuration of logos and symbols, and whether other information needs to be on the sign (such as an entrance name or digital message screen)
– architectural context: materials and finishes that relate to the surrounding environment
Not all projects have a well-defined entrance, and an edge marker or emphasizing the central thruway is more appropriate. Jefferson University and Hospital is an urban campus integrated into the city grid; it doesn’t have a single entrance. The approach instead was to highlight university corridors and buildings with architectural banners, scaled and illuminated to distinguish the campus buildings from the surrounding neighborhoods.
Gateways advance branding
Gateway designs grow directly out of a place and the client’s unique identity and vision. They are exciting way to bring a brand to life and connect people to the mission and history of a community or institution.
Gateways establish a sense of arrival
One of the most important aspects of gateway design is developing a wayfinding strategy that identifies and chooses to emphasize specific entrances. We consider how people enter the campus or district, what their first impression will be, and what their needs are. Gateways may be paired with information booths, directional signage, maps, banners, or other wayfinding elements to lead visitors to their destination.