High-Tech Wayfinding Makes Statement at Kansas City Hospital

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A new wayfinding program at the recently renovated Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City is designed to push the envelope with state-of-the-art digital components.

Evanston, Ill.-based Forcade Associates, a 22-year-old graphic design company specializing in signage and wayfinding, oversaw the installation of the facility’s new interactive history wall as well as an immersive donor wall, directional kiosks and digital bulletin boards.

“It was truly one of the best projects we have ever worked on with some of the most profound results,” said Forcade Associates Principal Mark Levine.

Completed last winter, the project is part of a $330 million expansion at Saint Luke’s that included the construction of the Women’s Center, the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, underground parking and green roof gardens. Forcade turned to Sensory Interactive of Towson, Md., to help with hardware, project management, interactive applications and content development. R2W Inc. of Las Vegas delivered the hardware, and site construction company JE Dunn Construction built the physical housings that hold all of the equipment.

“There was an army of people working to develop and produce this digital installation, and the most important collaborator in the project was the client,” said Levine.

Interactive Wall Sets New Standard

“The history wall is the largest interactive digital installation of its kind right now in the world,” said Levine.

The history wall traces the 130-year history of the hospital, incorporating hundreds of photographs and video clips. The wall features an interactive screen that measures 16 feet by 4 feet and encompasses nearly 19 million pixels.

“It provides three-dimensional representation of how the hospital has changed over time,” said Levine. “It was a labor of love.”

The wall can sense a visitor’s presence without being touched and therefore engage the viewer immediately. In addition to the hospital’s history, it features news clips, interviews, videos and animations of medical procedures.

The technology used in the history wall is also incorporated into a high-resolution donor wall, which lists the names of more than 500 hospital contributors and highlights donor profiles and testimonials in a rotating slideshow. The donor wall features Christie MicroTiles in the center of display, flanked by acrylic panels displaying donor names that are illuminated with a changing LED light palette.

“The donor wall basically gives the hospital the ability to have people give a testimonial about why they gave money to the hospital and why they feel so connected to the hospital. It’s about sharing their story,” said Levine.

Forcade also equipped Saint Luke’s with seven interactive direction and information kiosks, which provide visual, audio and printed directions to any part of the hospital. Visitors can walk up to the screen, learn how to get to their desired destination and then walk away with a printout of directions in their hands.

The kiosks couple with the bulletin boards throughout the hospital that run video and RSS feed, providing information on available events, clinics and current activities.

While Levine cannot disclose the price tag of the Saint Luke’s projects, the varied components and customized content development all contribute to the cost.

“In a project like that, it is the design of it, it’s the hardware, and it’s the content. The hardware deals with not only the things that are in the physical space but also all the electronic components, such as 0.4mm – 6.0mm HDI circuit boards, that you have to add to it. And then there is also the content and programming,” he said.

Forcade Associates has offices in Chicago, Seattle and Kansas as well as overseas in Dubai, Mumbai and Nairobi. The company works in retail, corporate, higher education and legal, as well as healthcare environments, and incorporates digital and interactive programs into its work.

“It becomes a multi-channeled approach. Wayfinding is not just signs,” said Levine. “It’s a whole journey.”