When Google's Kirkland campus was set to dramatically expand, they needed a new wayfinding scheme for Googlers and visitors. Google's founders are strong believers in the Montessori method of learning and working, which emphasizes using all of our senses. This inspired the design solution: each building on campus can be identified by a different texture, letter, shape and color related to Google's brand. The signs' tactile quality invites touch. As the light shifts from day to day and season to season, the dimensionality of the signs creates a changing shadow play, making them highly memorable.
When Google's Kirkland campus was set to dramatically expand, they needed a new wayfinding scheme for Googlers and visitors. They wanted a design approach that was innovative in a way that reflected the company's values and attitude.
Google's Kirkland campus is characterized by a series of very similar looking buildings. A very large new building—almost doubling the square footage of campus working space—was slated to open in 2016 across a lengthy pedestrian bridge. This dramatic expansion of campus made wayfinding far more complex. Visitors can now park in multiple locations and buildings, but must funnel through a consistent, secure entry point. Our wayfinding scheme included assessment and strategy for the complete campus and inserted both pedestrian and car wayfinding, changing traffic patterns in some locations. The Kirkland campus sits in a green, nonurban setting, so our design was intended to reflect the colorful, contemporary quality of the Google brand while not 'shouting at the neighbors'.
There are approximately 20 signs, plus architectural color treatments at 4 entry points to buildings. The scope covered Concept Design through Construction Administration. Design research into Google's brand principles, Montessori based methods and iterative methods of working, as well as research into current and predicted pedestrian and motorized traffic patterns throughout campus occurred.
Google reports no wayfinding issues despite the dramatic increase in the size of campus. Feedback has been very positive on the look, feel and inventiveness of the sign scheme. Google always wants to be on the forefront of innovative design, and that includes their working environments. The signs are seen as a positive embodiment of Google's brand and attitude.