Walk This Way: New Wayfinding Signage Guides People Through Grinnell College’s Updated Campus

Buildings that taught students more than a century ago still stand on the campus of Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Their stunning facades are a testament to the prestigious liberal arts college. But what were once proud lecture halls became cramped spaces that weren’t equipped for modern technology and collaborative teaching methods. So Grinnell College embarked on a massive plan to reconstruct these historic buildings within new modern structures.

Part of the comprehensive campus update was a landscape design that reimagined the space and offered an engaging environment that better defines campus and improves the wayfinding system.


It was essential that the campus wayfinding system also receive an upgrade to companion new routes, buildings, and pathways to buildings. Landscape architects at Ayers Saint Gross (ASG) out of Baltimore, Maryland, developed the wayfinding system. Collaborating with Grinnell College, our sign experts help to fine-tune the plan, manufacture the signage, and install each location.

“Grinnell College was one of our first clients in 1986,” says Ben Latimer, Director of Digital Media. “As a local partner, we are very familiar with the campus, and we’re just minutes away, so we were able to make adjustments to the plan as needed to perfect the wayfinding signage.”

One major change on campus was the addition of more pedestrian wayfinding signage within the interior of the campus. “The faculty and staff may know the names of every building, but prospective students and visitors can quickly get turned around without clear signage,” Latimer says. “We also added physical addresses to many of the building identifiers. This information is important for first responders in an emergency situation.”

Another enhancement to the wayfinding signage plan was the addition of illuminated signs. There are now 30 large signs with routed letters, acrylic panels, and back-lit with LED lights to direct traffic around campus and to visitor parking. Enlarging the signs and making sure they are visible at any time of the day or night serves guests well.


Wayfinding signage was just a small part of Grinnell College’s comprehensive campus update. So it was a priority to work within the phased construction timeline set by the general contractor McGough Construction, based out of St. Paul, Minnesota.

“We organized the signs into zones, and when construction was done in a specific area we’d go in with all the signs and get them installed quickly so the landscapers could come in after us and do their part,” says Jason Flathers, Signage Project Manager. “The phased approach worked well to keep the overall project on schedule.”

Our sign team built full-size mock-ups of some signs to give the design team a hands-on feel for what the finished product would look like. “To stay within local traffic guidelines, we had to tweak size and placement of a few signs,” Latimer says. “So to be able to physically see how the sign would work within a space before the final wayfinding signage package was approved, was very helpful in the long run.”

Now people are greeted on campus with new entrances, a welcoming landscape plan, contemporary buildings, and clear signage to help them easily navigate the remodeled campus.

Want To Learn More?

Grinnell College’s construction updates can be found here.

Read A Marketers Mindshift: Finding Your Way Through Wayfinding Signs

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