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Hospital Design and Wayfinding

Environment and Behavior
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
  • Design


A videotape simulation of the entrance drive to the new University of Michigan Hospital was used to test the effect on turning behavior of constructing a parking deck entrance directly off the hospital's drop-off circle. One hundred randomly sampled visitors were shown this videotape and asked where they would turn, if they were coming alone to visit a patient and needed to park their car. There were several turn-off areas along the entrance drive before the parking deck turn-off. Each turn-off had a sign listing its respective functions and directed drivers to continue straight ahead for parking. Half the visitors saw a videotape in which there was an entrance to the deck from the drop-off circle, and half saw a tape in which the entrance from the drop-off circle was absent. Each visitor saw two scenarios, one having the drop-off circle crowded with cars, and one uncrowded. The results of the study showed that the presence of the entrance to the deck from the drop-off circle did make a significant difference in reported turning behavior. The results of this study had a direct impact on the subsequent design decision. In addition, the results of this study are meaningful beyond the data themselves. The study used an inexpensive, simple, and highly imageable research technique, yet one rarely used in environment-behavior research. It was a "quick turn-around" research effortthat resolved a specific design dilemma. The study also demonstrates that signs alone are not sufficient to guide wayfinding behavior in large complex environments like hospitals.

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