Michael Browning has spent extensive time studying and writing about the significant cognitive research leading to the development of, and acknowledgement of, wayfinding as a process by Kevin Lynch in 1960. Wayfinding, as a design discipline, is rooted in the application of cognitive science into the design process—it is much more than simply the design of signage. It should also be considered that the cognitive aspects of an environment’s legibility will be reflected in the design of any support information and graphics.


A true wayfinding analysis might involve all aspects of a given environment from the standpoint of user interaction and experience. The overall design of the given area, the location and orientation of an information desk, the location of elevators and the distinction of pathways are all considerations that affect how users interact with, and within, an environment. Wayfinding, as a design discipline, was established in recognition of the dictum that, to resolve significant design problems within a built environment, a designer needs to understand the thought process of the end user—one cannot responsibly address the needs of a user group without understanding the problem solving processes through which that user group will define their experience in any environment. Therefore, any applicable cognitive research should be considered in the design of the physical characteristics of, and information system within, an environment; and the legibility of a designed environment can greatly affect its functionality (as experienced by users).


Significant research has been conducted that reinforces this philosophy and much of it can be directly applied in the planning of wayfinding design and environmental graphic information systems. The effectiveness of route versus spatial orientation strategies, the use of color, the need for consistent and functional nomenclature, the effectiveness of symbols, versus text descriptions, versus photographs, etc., are all planning and design considerations that stem from an understanding of how users might hope to experience an environment without feelings of frustration and disorientation.


The particular product recommended to the client will vary based upon a review and needs determination. Although some projects are more suited to a programming and design implementation, others are more suited to an in-depth analysis and Master Plan approach—to be implemented site-wide or in stages. While the process and product may differ, the general eight-step problem solving process is outlined below.


Projects will typically follow this structure so that all challenges are addressed logically and accurately.

  • Information Gathering










20 F Street
3040 Post Oak
6 Houston Center
Adams Plaza
Allen Center
Bank One Building
Baptist Women’s Center
Boston Properties
Brevard College
Capital Gallery
Carter’s Footwear
Champions Forest
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Children’s Hospital NRI
Children’s Inn at NIH
City of Charlotte – Trolley Project Marketing
City of Los Angeles Pedestrian Wayfinding
City of Rochester, MN
City of Tuscaloosa, AL
Clear Lake Center
Collin County Courthouse
Department of Defense Concessions
Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge at NIH
Egghead Software
Elkhart General Hospital
Enterprise Plaza
FKP Architects
Fort Bend County Justice Center
Fort Sill
Franklin Square Hospital Center
Fulbright Tower
General Services Administration – 1800 F Street
General Services Administration – Northeast

Harrington Regional Medical Center
Hines India Real Estate
Houston Center

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White

Huntington House – VA Boston
Hyatt/Orange County
Inova Fairfax Hospital Center
Inova Health System
Inova Loudoun

La Bella Vita Town Center
Lincoln Hospital Center
Mark G. Anderson Consulting
Medstar Health
Mercy Medical Center
Mountain Home VA
North Carolina State University
Northern California VA System
Oklahoma Heart Hospital
One Preserve Parkway
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
Parrish Medical Center
Peachtree Center
Penn State Hershey Medical Center
Pentagon Luggage and Leather
Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center
San Felipe Plaza
Sentara Obici Hospital
Southside Stables
Tetra Technologies
Texas Children’s Hospital Maternity Center
Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Texas
The Architect of the Capitol (AOC)
The City of Birmingham Medical District

The Club at Carlton Woods
The Gregory School
U.S. Capitol Building

U.S. Capitol Grounds

U.S. House and Senate Office Buildings

U.S. Pentagon – Department of Defense
United States Court of International Trade

United States Forest Service
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
University of Mary Hardin – Baylor
University of North Carolina – Charlotte
University of North Texas – Dallas
University of Texas Medical Branch
University of Texas Pan American
VA Baltimore
VA Big Springs, Texas
VA Boston
VA Buffalo

VA Columbia
VA Dallas
VA District of Colombia Clinic
VA District of Columbia
VA Fayetteville
VA Martinsburg
VA Martinsburg
VA Martinsburg CBOC
VA Miami
VA Monterey
VA Orlando
VA Rhode Island
VA Richmond
VA Salt Lake
Va San Francisco
VA Sioux Falls
VA Togus
VA West Haven
VA West Roxbury
Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital
Vanderbilt Medical Center


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