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Cleveland lights the way with wayfinding by Applied
Destination Cleveland installs its first prototype signs in first step towards city-wide rollout

As part of Cleveland's wayfinding strategy, four prototype signs have been installed in the Downtown to research their appeal and effectiveness for visitors and residents of the most populous city in Ohio.

On-street monolith at Euclid Avenue. ©Drew Shipley for Destination Cleveland

A full Downtown roll-out will follow in 2015 to enable visitors, commuters and residents to quickly and easily locate Cleveland’s neighbourhoods and many cultural and leisure attractions.

Destination Cleveland, the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland, has worked with more than 200 community stakeholders to better connect the elements of the city.

On the horizon is the 2016 Republican National Convention, which is expected to bring 50,000 delegates and media to Cleveland for the nomination of the party’s candidate for President.

Our strategy is a holistic approach to wayfinding that crosses neighbourhood and city boundaries and delivers information in a variety of ways including pedestrian signage, websites, walking maps, digital devices and more.

Destination Cleveland President and CEO David Gilbert said: “We’ve done a great job as a community of strengthening Cleveland as a destination by implementing nearly $3 billion in visitor-related development. It is equally important that we now invest in enhancing the visitor experience by better connecting these assets.”

Three large prototype signs are at Euclid Avenue, from Tower City Center to East 4th Street. A fourth, smaller sign is installed at Prospect Avenue and East 4th Street. Each sign features maps of Downtown Cleveland and the city’s neighbourhoods with their frequent transit connections.

On-street minilith at East 4th Street. ©Drew Shipley for Destination Cleveland

Ahead of the 2015 rollout of 50 more signs, we will assess the efficacy of Cleveland’s prototype signs.

David Gilbert said: “It was important for us to work with an outside firm because we needed to see Cleveland the way our visitors do in order to understand how we can create a more legible city landscape.

“Applied’s unique experience to create a comprehensive and seamless wayfinding system across numerous platforms will help us empower our visitors to explore our world-class attractions.”

Applied Director, Stephen Read commented on the project saying, “It has been hugely interesting to be involved in Cleveland’s deep thinking about its opportunities to better connect the city, including via wayfinding. It’s a process that has engaged the grassroots of neighbourhoods and has been enthusiastically supported and enabled by the City of Cleveland, its engineers, planners and many others.”

Read continued, “We have designed the prototype signs to be internally illuminated to be particularly attractive and effective during evenings and at other times when light levels are relatively low in Cleveland. A lot of development went into the illumination levels to make the signs perfectly readable without loss of detail from being too bright or insufficiently radiant.”

Illuminated on-street monolith. ©Drew Shipley for Destination Cleveland

The mapping style used on the signage is being adopted by other organisations and areas of Cleveland to provide a seamless experience for people navigating in and beyond Downtown.

Cleveland finder map.

One key task for Destination Cleveland has been to harmonise the sometimes interchangeable and overlapping use of names for neighbourhoods, districts and their boundaries. Community workshops – which began with as low as 27 per cent agreement of what Downtown districts should be called – have led to full agreement on consistent naming to aid visitor orientation.

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