What's Your Sign?

Can architectural forms communicate without signage?

signage, graphics, architectural design, communication, architectural psychology


My Ly


Marguerite Anglin


Brittany Coyle

Signage is a visual graphic that is commonly used to indicate place, convey information, and display advertisement. In every city, marking every street, on every building, signage is among us. When conveying information to the general public, signage typically follows a standard system that is instantly recognizable. A sign can vary in color, size, shape, design, and medium, as its character is defined by its use. Signs may employ different materials and even illumination to grab attention and be seen. Whether tiny hand-painted postings or enormous printed billboards, all signs attempt to communicate a message that is easily understood. Signage is a key element in urban wayfinding, often becoming landmarks and fragments of history.

Is architecture signage? Most buildings can be defined simply by relationship to their context, and typology classifications can often reveal the program of a building without words. The era of a building, its function and use can be apparent in its form through size, height, materials, and proportion. Building forms are symbols of the social, technological, cultural, historic, and sustainable expressions of time through function.