Skip directly to content

County Council Accepts Wayfinding Report

on October 5, 2017 - 10:09am

John Bosio, principal of Merje and Senior Designer Jess Church present the wayfinding schematic design and analysis report during the Sept. 26 County Council meeting. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/



Los Alamos Daily Post 


Consistent signage that reflects the Los Alamos County brand and directs visitors and locals to their destinations is one step closer to becoming a reality after the Los Alamos County Council unanimously accepted the wayfinding analysis report and schematic design.


The action occurred during the regular County Council meeting Sept. 26 in Council Chambers.


John Bosio of Merje, the contractor hired to produce the analysis report and schematic design, said the next steps are to finalize the sign programming, which includes a location plan for where to place the signs and the signs’ messaging, as well as to create design intent drawings for when the County solicits bids to produce the signs.


Assistant to the County Manager Linda Matteson told the Los Alamos Daily Post that signage is a key ingredient in the effort to bolster the local tourism economy.


Wayfinding, she explained, is a method “to enhance the visitor experience. Basically we have signs but we don’t have a (method) to implement a comprehensive sign system that is really necessary for visitors ... when we first started our tourism strategic effort the two things that are almost always a part of tourism planning are a branding effort and a wayfinding effort.”


To be effective, Merje produced a plan that goes beyond just putting a sign on a metal pole. In the analysis report, Merje included recommendations for signs to be interactive and provide educational information about Los Alamos. It was also stressed other methods to inform visitors such as visitor brochures, and offer mobile apps. The wayfinding analysis also included recommendations to and provide plenty of information regarding the checkpoints for Los Alamos National Laboratory.


There was some discussion about whether signs could point visitors to different businesses. Bosio said that typically advertising businesses isn’t something they recommend. If that was an avenue the County wanted to pursue, they would need to treat it similar to a mall directory and be willing to update it regularly.


County Council Vice Chair Susan O’Leary wondered if the County could provide its signage to the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. If the County decides to do that, Bosio recommended using very specific criteria and limit the language on the signs to be very generic.


O’Leary added she didn’t see why there couldn’t be signage that directed people to general areas of shopping, dining and other places.


County Councilor Rick Reiss pointed out that businesses such as Metzger’s Do It Best Hardware have incorporated the County’s logo in their store brands and asked if it would be possible for them to use the County’s signage.


County Attorney Alvin Leaphart said if the County doesn’t copyright the signs, private businesses could use them. This could lead to problems; County Council Chair David Izraelevitz said visitors might get confused about what is a County or a private entity.


The schematic design incorporates a number of elements from the different design options. Based on feedback from meetings with a steering committee, stakeholders and the community as well as an online survey, Bosio reported one of the design options was tossed out and two of them were combined together.


The end result is the signs will feature the same color scheme similar to the Los Alamos County logo. They also will feature educational facts and inspirational quotes that highlight the sense of discovery in Los Alamos. The signs will reflect a retro style similar to the Los Alamos U.S. Post Office and will use stacked stone as well as metal poles.

Several of the Councilors said they were pleased with the final results.


“I think this is a wonderful proposal ... the combination design elements, I think you guys did a really great job with that,” Councilor Antonio Maggiore said.


With the addition of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the time is right to do this work, O’Leary said.


“If we want to have (the) park in our town we need to tell people how to get there,” she said, adding, it is appropriate to hire experts and do it right the first time. “I’m really glad we are working on this.”