Everyone agrees that a building's exterior and lobby make a lasting first impression. But have you ever noticed how many signs you pass between the curb and the apartment you are visiting? As we breeze through on our way upstairs, we barely notice these important pieces of print, yet they do make a lasting impression on us.
From the name and address on the awning outside to the All Visitors Must Be Announced sign posted in the entryway, from the No Smoking sign in the lobby to the Managed by Superlative Buildings, Inc. plaque posted in the elevator, these words are saying important things to us; things about the look and quality of the building. If little thought has been given to the style of these signs, they may say more than they intend to; they may convey the impression that the building design is not unified and that something was almost left out.
The possibilities for signage are endless, but you need a design professional to show you the various options and attendant costs while assisting you to create an overall theme. For complete interior signage programs, supplied and installed, a designer's cost usually runs from two to four percent of the total renovation budget. A professional will be instrumental in emphasizing signagean important, but often forgotten design element.
When designing the interior of a building, I like to have fun with signage. For example, signs can be color-coordinated with the wall covering and carpeting. Sometimes they can incorporate a building emblem or theme. We recently created a photo polymer building sign with borders inspired by the carpet border. In another case, we took an architectural motif and incorporated the design element into the signage. Such treatments create visual interest and project the image of a building with a well-planned design scheme.
Optional vs. Mandatory
Some signs enhance the quality of life in a building, while others are legally mandatory. Public spaces such as lobbies and hallways must conform to Fire Marshall regulations and codes governing life safety issues. Corridors generally require directional signs such as escape map routes, illuminated exit routes and signage both inside and outside stairwells. The Americans with Disabilities Act calls for signage in Braille at elevators and stairwells for handicapped tenants, shareholders and guests.