Toronto’s Exhibition Place, a publicly owned mixed-use district, is home to Canada’s largest entertainment complex and plays host to a wide range of trade shows, sports, special events, conferences, conventions, consumer shows and meetings, attracting more than 5.5 million visitors per year. Navigating the 78-ha (192-acre) site can be challenging, as these disparate events are held in different facilities at various times of the year, with different parking lots allotted for arriving vehicles. Few repeat visits are ever the same.
Given the facilities’ events and functions change daily, Exhibition Place requires a wayfinding system that can dynamically manage and route its vehicular and pedestrian traffic on an as-needed basis. With this need in mind, local environmental graphic design (EGD) firm Entro recently developed a series of digital pylons to replace older static signs throughout the site.
由于每天的活动都不一样，展览场所需要一个多功能的数字标识导视系统，对车辆和行人交通进行动态的管理。考虑到这一需求，当地的Environmental Graphic Design 公司最近开发了一个数字标识架，以取代整个展览广场上旧的静态标识。
The project began in 2014, when the management of Exhibition Place and of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE)—owner of the Toronto Football Club (FC) and Marlies, which play soccer and hockey at Exhibition Place’s Bank of Montreal (BMO) Field and Ricoh Coliseum, respectively—approached Entro to discuss the possibility of digital directional signs. As the site’s largest non-exhibition tenant, MLSE was interested not only in promoting its teams’ home games, but also in helping to prevent visitors’ frustration with finding parking spots.
“Exhibition Place has many parking spaces that sit empty for much of the year, only to fill up quickly when there’s a big game,” explains Aleks Bozovic, design director for Entro. “There are also a number of different entrances and exits, so it’s easy for people to end up driving around a lot more than they would like.”
At the time, some directional information was provided with large vinyl overlays in painted steel frames on concrete pedestals, which were movable only by forklift. Changing their temporary messages was only possible by swapping out the vinyl graphics, which took a lot of work compared to updating a digital screen. It was also unclear which sign positions were optimal for the area.
“Working with Exhibition Place staff, we undertook an extensive planning study for the site’s walking and driving paths,” says Bozovic. “The staff had first-hand knowledge of all of the ins and outs, including where traffic would cause bottlenecks and which events would bring visitors to which corners of the property.”
At the same time, since Exhibition Place is designated as a heritage city property, any new signage would need to mesh well esthetically with the existing landscape.
“The design couldn’t be overly intrusive or decorated,” says Bozovic.
Entro met with ASI, an archaeological and cultural heritage services firm, and the municipal government’s own heritage preservation services department to ensure the project’s appearance and installation requirements would support archeological sustainability and respect the heritage nature of the site.
The study identified six optimal positions for fixed, double-sided digital pylons, including two on Princes’ Boulevard, Exhibition Place’s central thoroughfare, and four along the site’s secondary streets, which are named after Canada’s provinces and territories.
“We presented our work to the heritage services team in early 2016,” says Bozovic. “Initially, our plan included placing one of the pylons near a historic fountain where Prince’s Boulevard, Manitoba Drive and Saskatchewan Road meet. We had to move that sign slightly further west until they were satisfied we had reduced the visual impact on the fountain. We also needed a bylaw variance from the city because there would now be more than one sign per entranceway.”
The sign bylaw group’s input was incorporated into the specifications from the beginning. One concern that came up through consultations was screen brightness, for example, so light sensors were incorporated to enable automatic adjustments throughout the day and the signs would be turned off completely at night, from at least 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., unless needed for events during those hours.
As for content, the bylaw group consultations set a minimum of 10 seconds for static image retention and a maximum of one second for transitions between images.
“These signs are easy to look at and not a lot of transitions are needed anyway,” Bozovic explains. “They mostly display event names and logos with the corresponding parking lot information. As mentioned, the primary purposes of this system are parking management and bottleneck prevention. Any other content comes from the permanent tenants, like MLSE, and mentions upcoming games and events. We made some early suggestions regarding image size and transitions, but all of the content is created and driven by facility staff.”
Perfecting the specs
When choosing hardware for the system, meanwhile, the goal was to balance the need to support the relatively hefty weight of the internal digital components while still appearing sleek and understated—i.e. modern and dynamic, yet unobtrusive.
Entro specified 3-m (9.8-ft) tall aluminum structures, adorned only with a simplified version of the Exhibition Place logo, to showcase 1.2 x 1.8-m (4 x 6-ft) light-emitting diode (LED) screens with 6-mm (0.24-in.) pixel pitch. The screen size would be large enough to provide suitable visibility for drivers in motion, while the fine pixel pitch would ensure appropriate resolution and readability for pedestrians at a closer distance.
Entro指定3米（9.8英尺）高的铝制结构，用于展示一些重要的地理位置，以1.2 x 1.8米（4 x 6英尺）为大小，以6 -mm（0.24英寸）为像素间距的发光二极管（LED）屏幕做为简化版装饰，屏幕尺寸足够大，以便为驾驶员提供合适的视野，而精细的像素间距可确保距离较近的行人能获取一定的分辨率和可读性。
“We went through several iterations of our schematic designs, looking at different paint samples until we found the right grey metallic shade that worked well with the surroundings, with a flake that reduced its shininess,” says Bozovic. “Once we specified what we thought was most appropriate, we ran on-site tests with a variety of LED screens from different manufacturers.”
With the project timeline involving several years of development, one challenge was keeping up with advances in LED technology.
“As each year went by, we looked into new LED screen tests, because the technology was changing and getting better with time,” Bozovic says.
WSI Sign Systems of Bolton, Ont., built the aluminum enclosures, including a sample cabinet for test-fitting the screens. Media Resources International (MRI) of Oakville, Ont., was selected to provide screens using its proprietary LEDs—which reportedly offer a maximum of 3,500 nits of brightness—and to handle on-site installation of the cabinets. They were installed in fall 2016, with the last one set up that December.
位于安大略省博尔顿市的WSI Sign Systems公司负责制造铝制外壳，包括一个用于测试安装屏幕的样品柜。安大略奥克维尔的媒体资源国际公司MRI选择使用一种最新技术的LED屏，据报道，该LED能提供高达3,500尼特的亮度，它们在2016年秋季安装，最后一个安装在十二月份。
Meanwhile, the municipal government had asked for all of the older ‘temporary’ signs to be removed if located within 9 m (30 ft) of the new permanent signs’ locations, as one of its goals with the project was to reduce on-site clutter.
“They still have a few of those static signs left, in cases where they’re not close to the digital pylons,” says Bozovic. “There are also still event banners and other temporary signs, which our wayfinding system is not meant to replace.”