Airports tend to be pretty well-marked. Even if you’re not relying on GPS, you are likely to see those familiar airplane symbol signs from the roadway that guide you to the terminal. But at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), many customers were missing the main entrance altogether and winding up in a hotel parking lot rather than at the terminal.
While realizing this was symptomatic of a larger wayfinding problem, the airport just so happened to have a new brand that it wanted to debut. That’s when they called in Gresham Smith to develop and implement a two-phase exterior signage master plan as well as signage upgrades. The end result vastly improves the wayfinding experience at SRQ while emphasizing the airport’s distinctive brand attributes.
new exterior signs
comprehensive exterior master plan
phases of implementation
A Total SolutionTo initiate the master planning process, we evaluated existing signage around the airport’s perimeter and the roadways in the immediate vicinity. Although the airport had made a number of upgrades to address dated and worn exterior signage—as well as the relocation of air cargo processing, which impacted circulation—they were only piecemeal in nature.
Using a strategic approach, we harnessed the collective expertise of our transportation engineers, wayfinding designers, branded environments experts and architects to develop a total exterior signage solution that would not only meet SRQ’s needs and goals but also maximize opportunities to enhance their brand.
Out with the Old, in with the NewSignage, both inside and outside of airports, can be confusing and stressful for travelers. In the case of SRQ, the existing main entrance was easy to miss because of poor lines of sight to the entry sign. The Phase I implementation included a new grand gateway feature that creates a resort-like feel, enhances visibility from the road and provides clearer directions for drivers heading to the airport. We incorporated SRQ’s distinctive logo into both the new entrance monument and directional signage, working with local authorities to gain special permission to include the logo over public right-of-way’s.
A Road to SomewhereWayfinding was further complicated by old overhead roadway signs along University Parkway—the main road leading to the airport. The Phase I implementation included a refresh of these aging structures. Cost-savings were achieved by repurposing the existing signs and reconditioning the timeworn galvanized steel with a clean, white, painted finish.
Addressing Circulation Changes and Creating ConnectivityCurrently in the second phase of the project, our team is designing signage improvements for the airport circle loop and the areas to the East and West of SRQ that house support buildings. The airport loop upgrades will address clarity and wayfinding gaps at key decision points. To the East, additional signage will support safer vehicular and pedestrian circulation, including signage and pavement markings to emphasize crosswalks, as well as address changes to ancillary services locations. To the West, we’ll provide better direction for exiting the airport to U.S. Route 41.
Beyond a Functional FixAs outlined in both phases of the master plan, our strategic approach not only brings cohesion to the airport’s entire exterior signage program but also makes it easier for customers to navigate, while creating a positive first impression of SRQ.
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