UBC Botanical Garden

A combination tourist destination, functioning research facility, conservation habitat and historical entity, the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research is an institutional polymath. It plays many roles in the environmental and research communities and acts as a prominent tourist destination within the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus. In 2014, the garden received funding to develop and install an interpretive signage program. Among their communications challenges, UBC Botanical Garden has over 100 years of history, grounds spanning 40 hectares and a collection of over 8,000 species of plants.

University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC

Our project began with a substantial planning and content development stage led by Cygnus with support from UBC’s research staff. This helped to identify information in the client’s possession and refine it to content relevant to the Garden’s visitors. In addition to collaborative workshop sessions, we maintained a continuous feedback loop with the client team, working efficiently through an iterative design process. The development of content defined key messages and outlined specific climate zones in the garden. An iterative content and design development process helped refine messages and determine opportunities for illustrative storytelling.

Interpretive panels help visitors understand what they can expect to see, learn and do during their visit. As visitors make their way through the garden, signage is presented at key points to reveal interesting facts and captivating stories.

The design of interpretive sign panels focused on the educational, behavioral and emotional goals of the project. A colour-coded strategy was established for each climate zone and prominent pylon markers act as wayfinding elements throughout the Garden. The resulting program represents the collection of 50,000 plants and helps to broaden the visitor’s appreciation of plants and biodiversity conservation. By connecting to nature, we are more likely to protect it.

“Partnering with Cygnus allowed us to share the roles and value of botanical gardens and communicate stories and information about topics such as biodiversity, conservation, and food security. UBC Botanical Garden staff were involved at every step of the process, from conception to installation. Cygnus was an ideal partner throughout — the results speak for themselves.”

— Douglas Justice. Associate Director, Horticulture & Collections. UBC Botanical Garden