Foothills Medical Centre

Administered jointly by Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary, the Foothills Medical Centre is Alberta’s largest healthcare facility, providing advanced healthcare services to over two million people in Calgary, southern Alberta, southwestern British Columbia, and southern Saskatchewan.

Consisting of 14 interconnected buildings, 6 multi-level parking structures plus surface lots, and constructed over 50 years, the Foothills Medical Centre is a daunting place for visitors, particularly in the heightened emotional state that constitutes a hospital visit.

Alberta Health Services
Calgary, AB

Cygnus has worked closely with senior Foothills leadership to develop the principles and long-term vision for how people should navigate the site and access hospital services. As part of a core leadership team, Cygnus works with patient advisory groups and an internal task force to help identify priorities, find resources and explore solutions to the challenges patients and staff face daily. Our work showcases what can be achieved by working closely to identify challenges, prioritize initiatives and deliver results over a multi-year partnership.

Helping visitors, patients and staff navigate the site is important to operational success. To make connections easier to understand, Cygnus developed the Foothills Trail; a tool that takes an otherwise massive and undifferentiated set of buildings and clearly divides them into distinct sites. The paths between buildings are similar to the interconnected lines of a subway network. As with the London Underground or New York Subway, visitors can travel almost anywhere with the right help. This became the design inspiration for the Foothills Trail.

While building interiors change drastically, the assertive colour and geometry of the signage provides a unifying element throughout. Colourful floor-to-ceiling vinyl applied directly to wall surfaces creates a visual system that can be modified or expanded as needs change.

Large site directories utilize simplified maps to present information tailored to the visitor’s current location. Iconography, including building naming and colour, are relied on to communicate an overwhelming amount of information in a straightforward, easy-to-follow manner.