City of Hope Main Campus – Main Medical Building

A pilot wayfinding program at City of Hope’s main campus is designed to ease the experience of patients and caregivers and bring comfort to the main outpatient clinic, reflecting the institution’s mission to bridge leading-edge medicine with compassionate, human-centered care.

Healthcare facilities can be stressful environments that require clear, concise wayfinding to make spaces easier to understand and navigate quickly, minimizing stress and anxiety. To determine the potential benefits of a new wayfinding approach for all City of Hope facilities, Altitude worked closely with the client to conduct research and design a pilot wayfinding program that is simultaneously functional and gives peace of mind to patients and caregivers.

Early research illuminated the fact that the previous wayfinding system tried to accomplish too much, cluttered with an overload of information and with symbols that were not understandable to a broad audience. “Confusing” was common feedback in pre-design patient surveys. To clarify a new wayfinding logic, Altitude created a color-coded system that highlights three major pathways and facilitates the journey to City of Hope’s primary outpatient destinations. Highly visible, eye-level signage is installed at key decision points along each pathway. And throughout the signage system—consisting of directional signage, wall graphics, and destination identification—information is kept to only what’s needed at the moment.

City of Hope, founded in 1913, is a highly esteemed cancer treatment center and a national leader in advancing research and treatment protocols. Located northeast of Los Angeles, the main campus in Duarte, California, is a lushly landscaped sanctuary for patients dealing with cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses. Serene gardens designed for quiet contemplation surround state-of-the-art medical and research facilities. This balance of strength and stability with soothing, compassionate care would be illustrated by the new wayfinding strategy. In designing architectural signage and wall graphics, the Altitude team surveyed City of Hope’s park-like gardens and collected and photographed over 100 species of native plants. The design team carefully selected a set of images for the wayfinding program that enhanced the feeling of compassion while also providing a distinct visual language for each of the three pathways.

Successful wayfinding requires a 360-degree strategy that is coordinated and consistent across all touchpoints, using symbols and cues that a broad audience will intuitively understand. For City of Hope, Altitude’s wayfinding solution encompassed signs, graphics, maps, digital kiosks, and clarified nomenclature; multiple maps were designed in different formats and in six languages. And because this was a pilot program, Altitude conducted extensive prototyping to test colors, fonts, and sizes of various system components. Post-implementation research included meeting with City of Hope’s patient and family advisory council and interacting with patients, caregivers and staff.

Regulated by California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), City of Hope’s buildings are OSHPD-1 (general acute care hospitals) and OSHPD-3 (licensed clinics), adding an extra layer of requirements for Altitude’s wayfinding program. OSHPD improves access to quality healthcare for Californians and ensures hospital buildings are safe, offer financial assistance to individuals and healthcare institutions, and collect and publish healthcare data.

Signage and Graphics Vendors: CREO, Ampersand, Hattas Public Murals Research Collaborator: Map Well Studio Digital Signage Vendor: 22 Miles OSHPD Architect: GDG Architects