We designed the comprehensive wayfinding and donor recognition program spanning the interior and exterior of the building.
The brutalist form presented some challenges as the 60 degree angles within the overall hexagonal system were not intuitive from a navigation standpoint. We were however careful not to oversign favouring a minimal approach to facilitate orientation. To avoid the possible confusion of users navigating through multiple entrances levels and four separate theatres, signs are strategically located and designed to provide consolidated information similar to an office building directory. We also clearly identified entrances with clean, bold signage that accounted for both French and English donor names. The voice and messaging of NAC fundraising is anchored by optimism and inspiration, and we designed the donor program to be congruent with these emotional tones. The design details of the installations are also inspired by the architectural history of the building and its present characteristics. The named spaces follow a similar design, with French and English translations reading left to right, allowing viewers of either language to read area names in their natural order. Patterned, bright white backgrounds for the wall displays brighten up surrounding areas while honouring the hexagonal grid of the original Brutalist building. Size, depth and colour are used to visually represent donor levels, while playing with light and shadow to add an engaging dimension of complexity. We echoed the neutral colour palette of the architecture with elegant earth tones and metallic finishes. This limited colour palette also ensures that the hierarchy of donors is subtle, and nods to the overall vision of shared generosity.
The project has been widely praised, receiving awards from the 2017 Ottawa Urban Design Award, the Ontario Wood Council and the National Wood Council and is a finalist in the upcoming Ontario Association of Architects design awards. Entro enhanced and supported this stunning architecture to help make the building welcoming and navigable, easing anxiety for new visitors.