Meeker & Associates designed the UniGuide signage standards for the 390 parks managed by the U.S. National Park Service with an interdisciplinary team that included landscape architects Walker Macy, writer-planner Bruce Hopkins, engineer Eugene Avallone, illustrator Larry Duke, typographer James Montalbano, and human-factors researchers Martin Pietrucha and Phil Garvey. The design system and NPS UniGuide manual received the 2004 Society of Environmental Graphic Design Honor Award.
The standards are manifested in a 900+ page manual that includes general instruction, graphic standards, planning and training program, material specifications and fabrication drawings, installation and maintenance guidelines, and a general reference guide. This manual became the basis of a web-based software program conceptually developed with adcStudio to manage this large decentralized program. Development included analysis of all types of NPS facilities, review of standards for circulation and maintenance, and signage. A new typeface system was designed for all media. Standards for information displays were validated with human-factors research.
Yosemite National Park was our initial laboratory for the design of the NPS sign standards. Our team surveyed and cataloged existing conditions at every point of visitor contact. Designs were developed to provide appropriate information at campgrounds, trailheads, park entrances, trails, shuttle stops, lodging areas, and along roads. Wayfinding plans and implementation documents were prepared for all modes of travel, along with information formats to help visitor protect themselves, the land, and wildlife.
The goals of our design program at Grand Canyon, which attracts nearly five million visitors each year, were to reduce car traffic navigating a counter intuitive network of roads, increase shuttle bus use, improve safety information at trailheads, and help orient visitors to the South Rim. Designs and plans were developed to direct motorists to parking, provide mapping systems to introduce visitors to the free shuttle bus system, and encourage foot travel with better trail guidance. We also developed an information program for trailheads, campgrounds, and other key locations to educate visitors about personal safety and resource protection.