GS&P Completes Wayfinding & Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals & Landside

Uniform Application of Guidelines to Facilitate Safe and Efficient Movement of Passengers

September 09, 2011   |   Nashville, Tenn.   |   Projects

Gresham, Smith and Partners, a leading multi-disciplinary design and consulting firm for the built environment, is pleased to announce that Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Guidebook Report 52: Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside is now published. Completed by GS&P on behalf of the ACRP, a research program managed by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies, the Guidebook aims to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of passengers within each airport and from one airport to another through the uniform application of wayfinding best practices and common design criteria.

"The increasing number of airport users in the United States combined with the evolution of terminal design as well as the wide range of airport sizes and configurations make the wayfinding more complex than ever before," commented Jim Harding, SEGD, director of environmental graphic design and the project's principal investigator, Gresham, Smith and Partners. "Our intent is that by Airports adopting  the wayfinding principles in this guideline, the overall airport users' experience at airports across the country will be improved."

Prior to the publication of this Guidebook, there was not a single document or guidebook available to airport operators illustrating best practices for wayfinding and signing the airport terminal and landside. The content contained in the guidebook is based on research, surveys from airports and design professionals, existing guidelines and case studies. The comprehensive guidelines address the following areas:

  • On-airport roadways/off-airport access roads
  • Parking
  • Curbside/ground transportation
  • Terminal, including concourses/gates, ticketing/check-in, security checkpoints, federal inspection services, baggage claim.


The needs, problems, issues and solutions can vary greatly between the airport roadway and the airport terminal as well as from airport to airport. These guidelines include a systematic process for evaluating an airport that will ultimately yield improvements in the passenger wayfinding experience by understanding the sometimes elusive factor of 'why' passengers get lost. By taking time to understand the 'why', an airport will be able to develop their own wayfinding strategy that works to meet their specific needs. 

Managed by GS&P, consulting support was provided by the Texas Transportation Institute, Big Sky, Human Factors North, and cooperative efforts from the Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD) and Airport Sign Managers Network.

GS&P is currently working to complete another ACRP guidebook related to wayfinding improvements entitled Applying Intelligent Transportation Systems to Improve Airport Traveler Access Information. In addition to work with ACRP, GS&P was recently selected to provide design services for a comprehensive signage upgrade project at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) which will encompass all terminals, gates, curbside areas and parking garages. The firm has also provided significant wayfinding and signage services to several regional and international airports including: the new Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., International Terminal in Atlanta,  Denver International Airport, Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport and Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.

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