Major construction planned over summer; additional signs


Wayfinding signs, like the one above found in Markim Hall would be added to mor places around campus. Photo credit: Visual Communications

Wayfinding signs, like the one above found in Markim Hall would be added to mor places around campus. Photo credit: Visual Communications
]1 Wayfinding signs, like the one above found in Markim Hall would be added to mor places around campus. Photo credit: Visual Communications
In the coming weeks, most students will leave campus for the summer, but several construction and renovation projects will continue in their absence. When the students return in August, some parts of campus will look noticeably different.

The work that has already begun on the studio art building will result in the most drastic changes, according to Mark Dickinson, Director of Facilities Services.

“The [art] building will be enclosed and there will be a new third floor,” Dickinson said. There will also be a new boiler in the basement and the construction crew may finish sitework north and east of the building.

He also said that the project is currently on schedule for its Spring 2014 deadline, advertised on the side of the construction site’s crane.

“The project is [going] to be done in January and ready for classes by the 27th,” he said, meaning that art students have only one more semester taking their classes in makeshift studios and classrooms.

Besides the art building construction, there are numerous maintenance projects planned for summer break. The Riley Pool in the Leonard Center has been closed since April 30 for draining, cleaning and re-grouting, and is scheduled to reopen on June 7.

Doty and Bigelow residence halls will also undergo some changes. Dickinson said that there are plans for a new roof on Doty and interior work in the hall’s stairwells. In Bigelow, the electrical transformer and vault work will be completed in the southwest corner and basement.

Humanities 226 will get a makeover with new carpet, paint and seats, and there will be additional sustainable landscaping around Weyerhaeuser Hall.

Another project in the works is the installation of wayfinding signs on the Macalester campus. According to Dickinson, this will not take place this summer, but college representatives have selected a company, Visual Communications, and conducted a preliminary consultation with them.

Director of Communications David Warch and Vice President for Advancement Tommy Bonner are in charge of the wayfinding project.

Warch explained that wayfinding signs are meant to reduce confusion for visitors navigating the Macalester campus.

“Effective wayfinding design minimizes signage clutter while providing necessary information for visitors at key decision points,” said Warch in an email. “For complex environments such as college campuses, wayfinding design services provide the blueprint for effective signage placement, messaging and signage design in tandem with architectural and exterior campus design.”

Bonner added that Macalester’s current labeling system leaves a bit to be desired. “Many of our campus buildings do not have the signs,” he wrote, “and even the ones that do have signs they are not easily readable except at a close distance. Visitors to campus often have to ask one or more individuals where to find a particular building.”

The company that Warch and Bonner found, Visual Communications, was chosen for its history of past successes. VC installed wayfinding signage at Carleton College and has a history of designing signs for Macalester as well. They created the master signage plans that were installed in the Leonard Center and Institute for Global Citizenship, according to Warch.

Warch said that they made the decision to implement the Macalester wayfinding project through a sign design company in order to assure that the signs are well placed, “have a consistent and quality design, provide the correct messages,” and obey the numerous area laws and regulations.

Although wayfinding signs are a common feature on campuses similar to Macalester’s, they are not designed to assist students. Warch said a successful wayfinding system would aim to provide guidance for first-time visitors and other more frequent visitors such as athletic spectators, alumni and parents.

Warch and Bonner have not yet received Visual Communications’ design proposals, but they expect to see them sometime in the coming month.