One of the most prominent topics of discussion among the 2007 Hospital Design Competition judges was signage—the good, the bad, the invisible. In fact, we couldn't get Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dan Chapel, AIA, to shut up about it. So we decided we needed to go more in-depth. So as not to offend any of you gentle readers, we snapped pictures of dentists' offices in the Lenexa, Kan., neighborhood surrounding the Veterinary Economics offices. Then we sent the photos to Chapel and let him loose. Here we present his critiques of signage and curb appeal in the world of teeth—all of which can be applied to the world of veterinary care.
Signage: With Gentle Dental, a large, attractive sign is visible from both roads that form the intersection where the practice sits (although Chapel advises block lettering over script in most cases), and another sign identifies the practice from the back, where clients enter the building.
Curb appeal: The building is striking, with plenty of interesting details surrounded by grass and foliage. Low bushes draw the eye to an appealing sign (above). In the back (right), a tree, bushes, and clear walkway guide visitors to the entry.
Signage: Dr. James Belfield is doing a lot of things right, Chapel says. The lettering of his sign is big and bold—although, if possible, a contrasting color would be better than white on beige.
Curb appeal: The interesting roofline, the potted plants, and the tree all work well, Chapel says. The problem with this front view is that the blinds are pulled down—not a welcoming signal. "I don't like blinds," Chapel says. "It's like a hand in front of your face." Plus, the blinds block any appealing visuals on the other side of the windows and front door.
Signage: Though nothing fancy, this practice has a decent sign, Chapel says—it's high-contrast with large lettering. He might do a couple of things differently, however, such as putting "Lenexa" and "Dental Group" on two lines and using larger lettering. He would also nix the street name. "People already know they're on Gillette at this point, and they're looking for the street number." In the additional space freed up by these changes, he would include the practice's phone number on the sign.
Curb appeal: Chapel likes the quaint-looking wooden building, but the landscaping around the sign could use some TLC. "This would a good place for low, brightly colored flowers," he says. "They really draw the eye."