Holden Arboretum Wayfinding Map

Studio Tectonic provided cartographic design to develop a system-wide visitor map for this 3,000 acre arboretum. Extensive field work was provided to plot new GIS data which served as the basis of the map. Every trail and feature was walked, photographed, drawn and evaluated. The map utilizes a combination of a traditional aerial map view, shaded relief and vegetation for topography and tilted view axometric loose illustrations for buildings.

Redeveloping a complex site map can be daunting for institutions. Studio Tectonic began by working closely with Holden’s core team and engaged both Guest Services staff and groundkeepers. We wanted to know what they see visitors doing and what’s being asked (what worked, or not, with the current wayfinding tools). We looked careful at how the new map should interface with signage and communication systems already onsite and future way finding changes. We also provided extensve research – looking at more than 80 site maps from wide-ranging institutions to examine how others have approached mapping needs and how these may inform the aesthetic and function of the new Holden map. These conversations created a strong platform and helped the complete team become familiar with mapping in more focused and critical way.

In creating the map’s design, careful attention was paid to how visitors actually use the map in the field. For example, landmarks and pathways were scaled and moved for function rather than for dead-on GPS accuracy in final appearance. Key built features as icons play an important role in help visitor locate themselves within the remote and difficult to navigate locations…serving as markers and provide confidence in route finding. For example, along a multi-mile trail in the woods, a simple icon for a foot bridge helps provide visitor reassurance an anchor point.


Holden Arboretum


Kirtland, OH


Arboretum | Botanical

Parks and Open Space