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Wayfinding: Welcoming cruise ships to Canada Place

Photos courtesy Multigraphics

By Michael Lunde
Vancouver’s cruise ship season keeps getting longer each year. In 2017, the city welcomed more than 840,000 tourists, borne on nearly 240 vessels. These visitors arrive at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal from all around the world and it can be a challenge to ensure they all get on and off their vessels and are directed through customs, ground transportation, hotels, the Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC) and local attractions  without any confusion.

With this challenge in mind, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which is responsible for stewardship of the Port of Vancouver, recently commissioned Multigraphics of Burnaby, B.C., to produce and install a series of brightly coloured signs, graphics and backlit posters for wayfinding purposes.

Developing a system
As the number of passengers arriving through the port has increased significantly in recent years, the port authority decided it was time to implement a full-scale wayfinding system, to help guide these guests and ensure their visit to Vancouver starts off on the right foot. Multigraphics worked closely with the organization to develop a consistent colour scheme, design and fabricate the graphics and strategically place them throughout Canada Place to direct both arriving and departing visitors.

Early in the process, a colour test was conducted with Caldera raster image processor (RIP) software to ensure all of the graphics would achieve consistent brand colours. This was essential because the wayfinding signs were printed on different materials, including vinyl, acrylic and aluminum composite panels, using two different wide-format inkjet printers.

Once the brand colours were profiled, samples were printed and installed on-site, so as to test them not just for colour accuracy, but also for durability (particularly on textured surfaces) and visibility at the optimal heights.

The need for customization
The project’s scope encompassed such elements as railing graphics, vinyl column wraps and directional stripes, all of which needed to be specially designed and installed to achieve maximum visibility and impact. Producing the railing signage, for example, involved custom-cutting 33 panels to fit along a handrail that stretches along the length of an on-ramp that leads into the centre of the cruise ships’ arrival and departure area. Each panel needed to be a different shape and surrounded by the correctly sized gaps, so as to fit along the allotted surface.

A total of 13 column wraps were designed to guide arriving passengers up to street level. On the reverse side of each column, meanwhile, additional signs were placed to display the corresponding colours for departing passengers, who approach them from street level.

Multigraphics applied the directional stripes along a 23-m (76-ft) long high-traffic walkway ramp, which is a highly textured surface, stretched across winding compound curves. Indeed, the wall was even too heavily textured for wrapping with conformable vinyl, so the directional graphics were instead printed on flexible acrylic panels. These proved clearly legible, could be placed along the complex curves and were sufficiently durable to put up with the wear and tear associated with 840,000 travellers in a year.