Norfolk Airport Authority


Norfolk, VA




Experiential Design and Wayfinding

Looking for opportunities to enhance the passenger experience at Norfolk International Airport (ORF), the Norfolk Airport Authority selected Gresham Smith to perform a comprehensive assessment of ORF’s existing signage and wayfinding elements. We evaluated design characteristics, such as typography and lighting, as well as application characteristics, like consistency, nomenclature and sign placement. We presented our findings in a Signage Evaluation Report that compared the results against industry standards and best practices and recommended potential areas of improvement and conceptual designs that could solve wayfinding and signage issues at ORF.

The project team recommended overhead directional signs to complement the existing ground-mounted signs. The proposed color scheme coordinated with ORF’s “airport in a garden” setting, and larger typography helps motorists identify destinations and make decisions faster. Adding lighting to signs at critical decision points would enable the system to work just as well at night, and existing ground signs could be refinished to match the new overhead signs. Along with new roadway signage, we suggested revising street names throughout the airport and distinguishing between the north and south curbsides. Both efforts would help motorists navigate the site, especially when using GPS navigation on digital devices.

a page from the signage evaluation report for Norfolk International Airport with primary terminal signage recommendations

For interior signage, we recommended a new color scheme and finish to complement the exterior signage, reduce glare from reflected sunlight and make the signs easier to read. Realizing the elevators in the departures terminal could be difficult to locate, we proposed locations for new illuminated signs outfitted with a distinctive color and shape combination. Standardizing airport-wide nomenclature, symbols and arrow placement also better connected interior and exterior spaces and instilled greater confidence among travelers.