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Feb 02, 2023

Design before Design: The wayfinding planning process

Adam Fine
image of presenter adam fine

About this video


Wayfinding design is a process of creating a system—considering the site's eventualities, contingencies, constraints and anticipating problems. Instead of designing single signs, we design types which get re-used again and again in a sign program. Adam will talk about how he works through a brief with clients BEFORE beginning on design: audience, mode of travel, environment, accessibility, legal/legislative elements and more.

About Adam Fine
Director of Wayfinding Interpretation at Fathom Studio in Halifax, NS, Adam is a planner with a unique passion—signs. He has helped organizations of all sorts improve their public spaces and rights-of-way with better signage: signs that welcome newcomers, signs that help people find their way in unfamiliar places, signs that tell big stories, and signs that reveal small ones. In concert with his colleagues at Fathom Studio, Adam has worked on interpretive and wayfinding plans for all kinds of clients: municipalities large and small, trail groups, Parks Canada, provincial parks departments and universities and college campuses. He is a devoted project manager with a commitment to quality, universality, collaboration, and considers sympathy with the end-user to be his most important attribute. Adam completed a masters degree in urban and regional planning in 2018 at Dalhousie University, with a research focus on pedestrian mobility and transportation. He is also a recovering professional jazz musician with over 20 years of experience on the double bass over hundreds of public performances.

Adam Fine

Fathom Studio

Adam Fine is a dynamic planner whose expertise lies in the often-overlooked realm of signage. With an unwavering commitment to enhancing public spaces and rights-of-way, Adam's passion for creating impactful signage solutions has transformed numerous environments. His work extends across a diverse range of projects, from crafting welcoming signs for newcomers to developing comprehensive wayfinding systems for navigating unfamiliar territories. As the Director of Experiential Graphic Design for Fathom Studio, Adam has collaborated on interpretive and wayfinding plans for a wide array of clients, including municipalities, trail groups, Parks Canada, provincial parks departments, and educational institutions. His role as a project manager is characterized by a dedication to excellence, inclusivity, and collaborative problem-solving. Adam understands that effective signage is not merely about providing directions but also about storytelling—whether it's conveying grand narratives or illuminating the subtle nuances of a place. Adam's has a master's degree in urban and regional planning from Dalhousie University, where his research focused on pedestrian mobility and transportation. This academic foundation enriches his practical approach to wayfinding and interpretive planning, ensuring that his solutions are not only aesthetically pleasing but also rooted in empirical evidence and best practices. Beyond his professional endeavors, Adam is a seasoned musician, having spent over two decades honing his skills as a double bassist in the realm of jazz. His experiences as a musician have instilled in him a deep appreciation for creativity, improvisation, and the power of expression—qualities that inform his approach to planning and design. Above all, Adam Fine is driven by a genuine empathy for the end-user, recognizing that successful signage is ultimately about facilitating meaningful connections and enriching experiences within the built environment.