"One of the largest problems within Downtown Cincinnati is parking due to the large amount of businesses and nightlife that exist in the area. The site selected for this project, Whex Garage on 4th and Elm, poses an issue similar to other parking facilities in the city. Very close in proximity to the Duke Energy Convention Center, it may serve its purpose as a place to leave your vehicle for the day or evening, however there are multiple opportunities to improve the space. The Duke Energy Convention Center gets thousands of visitors from in and out of the city every year, and a pleasurable arrival experience is key in establishing a good first impression of the city as a whole.
"Currently, the Whex garage does not provide the best experience possible. The current structure is hard to navigate in and out of without proper wayfinding, and the experience is more than uninviting and feels dangerous. Through successful wayfinding and placemaking systems, we will be able to help direct visitors to where they need to go while also creating a unique and inviting experience."
Images from our audit.
From our audit, we created our ideal visitor journey. From research to arrival, we needed to consider every aspect that a visitor might engage with our facility.
One of the issues that plagues this location in particular is the odd architectural structure of the garage. Upon researching, we discovered that this garage's traffic flow is considered a double helix structure. This means for the most part, vehicular traffic is one-way, with only two lanes to navigate. I created this drawing to demonstrate this flow.
In creating our visual language, we drew inspiration from a downtown Cincinnati mystery, the adjacent "Shapes Park." Not much is known about the park or its creator, but it was most recently painted in celebration of the 2015 MLB All-Stars game being hosted in Cincinnati that year.
Drawing inspiration from the park, as well as the adjacent Duke Energy Convention Center, we created a graphic language that was bold, bright, and communicates wayfinding utilizing color, shape and light.
Without an available floor plan, and approximate one was created to be able to plot out our opportunities and messages for our wayfinding system. These floor plans have a corresponding message schedule.
Our sign family was designed with illumination in mind, to aid in navigating the dim garage.
These map sign types were developed to reflect the unique layouts on each floor. Some floors of the garage have rooms and exits where others may not.
All of these messages, explicit and not so explicit, come together to create a unique arrival experience to each floor of the garage. Below is an example of what the other elevator lobbies would look like.
Our proposed entry approach would extend signage onto the Skywalk to make the facility more visible to oncoming traffic. The sign and walkway is also illuminated for late night travel.
The garage is attached to a relatively vacant "mall" that is in disrepair. The hallways are still in use as a part of the Skywalk system, but they are unpleasant to walk through. This concept busts down the vacant storefront to open up the space, and extend the placemaking of the garage to the Skywalk bridge.
Another component to this project was to develop an individual solution to enhance the experience of garage users. The area surrounding the garage has fallen into disrepair, and is just a concrete eyesore. The vision is to create a space where convention goers or even the random passerby can take a moment to sit and enjoy the outdoors, as well as create a safer area.
By adding living wall, effective lighting, as well as an accessibility ramp to the garage entrance, this revamped area will make the garage safer and more approachable.