Branding by Design: Wayfinding and Placemaking

It’s your big night out and you’ve just arrived at the theatre for a show. You’ve never been to this theatre before so how do you know where to go? The crowds help, but are you in the right line? How do you find your seat? Where do you get a drink? All these questions can pull you away from enjoying the experience if they cause stress.


It’s your big debut in the chorus of a traveling Broadway show. You’re halfway through tour, and all the theaters are starting to look the same. Your dressing room is 2 levels below the stage and you barely have time for costume changes. How can you possibly make it through the maze of corridors and stairs for your big entry?

So, how can architects, landscape architects, and designers help alleviate this stress? Well designed placemaking and wayfinding go a long way to making experiencing a building or site enjoyable and are an expertise of VIA. When we’re designing a building or site, we focus on these experiences and approach the projects as if we are the patron, student, beachgoer, or whoever is using the designed space so that we can highlight the information that is needed.

Chrysler Hall – From Stage Right to Where am I?

Chrysler Hall is an icon of Norfolk and draws numerous visiting shows. For a lot of the visiting shows, the theatre is their first touch of the city and that first impression and the overall experience can determine if the company wants to come back again with other shows. VIA and GWWO have been working with the City of Norfolk and Seven Venues to reinvigorate this icon and part of that reinvigoration is focused on making sure that the performer’s and support team’s experience keeps the shows coming back for years to come.

This starts with the Performer’s Entrance. Currently, the entrance is sunken behind some planters with very little light and becomes a collection area for debris. A new, enclosed entrance would make their arrival an event worthy of their performances while being safe and secure.


Once inside, the backstage corridors are a maze.  Can you get through the maze with what is there currently?

Stage Right to Stage Left
Where Am I?

A complete teardown and rebuild is never going to be practical or financially feasible. But, some consistent guidance through the maze takes the guesswork out of where you need to go. While Chrysler Hall and its maze of hallways is unique in many ways, we can take inspiration from solutions found elsewhere. A design such as these can be read at a glance and once you are on the ‘path’ you could follow it to your destination.

These are just some of the many solutions possible and we make it our goal to find the right solution for you and your needs. Below are some photos of our work and click here to view the Oceanview Wayfinding Project Page for a deeper dive.