Houston, Texas
4.9 million ft² existing construction


Assess the hospital’s existing graphics, signage, and nomenclature. Make design recommendations to improve patient experience and recapture Medicare & Medicaid reimbursements that had been jeopardized due to poor performance on HCAHPS measures related to wayfinding.


Contextual research and analysis, stakeholder interviews, patient visit-alongs, staff shadowing, user testing/focus groups, findings documentation, wayfinding system design recommendations


Site Analysis

  • Exterior navigation and parking experiences were not synced with larger context of the Texas Medical Center
  • Use of geometric shapes in existing wayfinding material confused visitors
  • Inspirational locations on campus were underutilized
  • Patients became easily disoriented
  • Maps were inconsistently messaged and improperly oriented
  • Pedestrian and vehicular signage was out-of-scale
  • Existing wayfinding strategies (color, shapes, nomenclature) were under-leveraged and inconsistent

Case Study


Texas Children’s Hospital is situated within the Texas Medical Center—a dense network of hospitals, research institutions, parking structures, pedestrian bridges, and public transit in southwest central Houston.

Navigating this campus isn’t simply about a signage system, it’s about designing a system (TCH) within a system (TMC) within a city. fig. a

TCH assets TCH assets2
fig. a
(Photos: Smiley N. Pool/Houston Chronicle, Carol M. Highsmith)

Research Findings

Site assets TCH map Site assets TCH map2 Site assets TCH map3
fig. b
A challenging cognitive load of building names, garage numbers and entry numbers

A primary issue for all visitors we shadowed was the relationship (or lack thereof) between parking structures and hospital buildings. The medical center’s system of numbered entries competed with TCH’s own internal system of numbered parking garages. These two sets of numbers were not always aligned, undercutting the efficacy of both systems. fig. b

Patient families would often park under a Texas Children’s Hospital building and reach the lobby only to learn their destination was actually in a different building—blocks away. fig. c One family we shadowed had been coming to TCH for years but cited persistent issues finding available parking convenient to their destination. fig. d

Site assets TCH Site assets TCH2
fig. c
Building identification atop towers were not visible to motorists. We proposed building identification at street level to help drivers better navigate a stressful environment.
Site assets TCH garage12 1 Site assets TCH garage12 2
fig. d

“If I slowly drive along Fannin, I can peek at the ‘Garage Full’ sign at Garage 12 because it is set back from the street. It would be great if that information could be communicated [at street-level].” -PAT.01

Site assets TCH int 1
fig. e A large-scale building directory confused and overwhelmed guests, and often went unused.

Once inside, visitors were confronted with a cacophony of wayfinding messages with little information hierarchy. fig. e Low contrast wall signage at thresholds was difficult to read and offered no sense of differentiation between buildings. fig. f

Site assets TCH int 2
fig. f Important messages blended in rather than standing out, due to a lack of color contrast.

Design Interventions

Site assets TCH map 1 Site assets TCH map 3
fig. g
A diagrammatic map shows the relationship between all towers, underground parking garages, and connecting sky-bridges.

To solve for the parking experience, we designed a sculptural mapping system that clearly shows the relationship between all campus elevators, buildings, and parking structures. This makes it easy for users to find their way even if their destination is in a different building than where they parked. fig. g

A clear and predictable information hierarchy, color system, and new system-wide signage standards support efficient navigation. fig. h Existing sign chassis were re-purposed to create a new information display system that is easy to update. fig. i

Site assets TCH map 2
fig. h Map modules at elevators give a snapshot of immediate and campus-wide context while using color to underscore wayfinding.
Site assets TCH sign 3 Site assets TCH sign 2 Site assets TCH sign 1
fig. i

We designed the new signage system to fit on existing chassis for a solution that was at once impactful and economical.


  • Philip LeBlanc (principal)
  • Lauren Serota (research lead)
  • Mandy LeBlanc (researcher)
  • Daren Guillory (design director)
  • Tyler Swanner, Erich Theaman (designers)
  • Dan Samora (TCH liaison)