A Monumental Task: Wayfinding During the Pandemic


We recently created floor markers to help with wayfinding and social distancing at the Gateway Arch

Good design responds to the world around it. And given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the world has given designers a lot to respond to. One of the most interesting design challenges we’re currently facing is wayfinding in a time of limited capacities and social distancing. As the Gateway Arch prepared to reopen its doors, we went to work designing a strategy to safely guide visitors through the park. Let’s look at some highlights. 

Floor markers to help with wayfinding in the Ticketing Center at the Gateway Arch.

Capacity + Traffic

First and foremost, we needed to control the Arch’s foot traffic and mitigate any potential for crowding. We developed a timed ticket experience where visitors would need a free reservation to enter the facility, allowing Arch staff to easily gauge capacity. We executed this experience through QR codes on select signage that would allow visitors to book tickets right from their phones. 

Installation of floor marker graphics for wayfinding.

Ticket + Security

These areas presented unique challenges due to their confinement and the fact that most visitors arrive in groups. We started by designing a visitor flow that mapped out how people would navigate each space—all while maintaining safe social distance from those exiting the building or using the restrooms. 

Signage within the Security Checkpoint at the Gateway Arch to help with wayfinding.

Executing this experience meant designing a lot of signage that kept visitors mindful of their surroundings and the safety of others. This included:

  • Plexiglass ticket booth signage to notify visitors of mask policies, credit card usage and sanitation precautions 
  • Line queue signage indicating the updated security check process
  • Reminders for traffic flow and social distancing throughout the facility
  • Floor decals to manage social distancing and queueing 

Signage during the Tram Ride to the Top experience to help with wayfinding.

Tram Experience

The Tram Ride to the Top is the most iconic part of a visit to the Arch. And if you’ve done it, you know the challenges we faced. It’s a tight squeeze just to get into the tram cars—and it’s hardly a big space waiting for you up top. We needed to reframe this experience for the safety of visitors while keeping in mind the attraction’s profitability. 



Once the Arch found a way to safely manage capacity in the trams and at the top, it was our job to make sure visitors understood the new experience. We created things like: 

  • Floor decals for responsible traffic flow
  • Single-way signage to avoid cross-traffic areas
  • Sanitation reminders for high-contact areas

Be on the lookout for these updates when the tram reopens later this year.



Back of House

Behind the scenes, we designed a series of signage specifically for Arch staff to help them maintain a safe working environment. This included notices about COVID-19 symptoms and transmission, proper hand washing technique and shared equipment usage. Because front-line staff are in direct contact with visitors, it was vital that we equip them with the information they need to keep themselves safe. 

The Museum at the Gateway Arch

Although their needs may not be as expansive as a National Park, more businesses need to be mindful of wayfinding design in the coming months. It’s one thing to open your doors—and another to open them responsibly. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to check out your space and design an optimal visitor flow. And if you’re looking to get out of the house for some much-needed sunshine, how about a day at the Arch