Downtown Wayfinding Program

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc (DGRI)

Grand Rapids, MI

THIS IS NOT THE COMPLETE PROPOSAL. For a complete proposal, maps and other information please request full proposal by emailing Melvin Eledge at


The Downtown Wayfinding Program seeks professional consulting services to develop a master wayfinding signage plan complete with analysis, system design, documentation, specifications and implementation for various forms of signage.  The plan should define the types and design of signs, where they should be used, where they should be located, what they should look like, and what kind of information they include.

The Program should consider all modes of transportation and outline a phased implementation strategy for the project.  The Downtown Wayfinding Program goals include:

  1. Increase and encourage visitor and resident discovery and exploration of Downtown.
  2. Allow easy deciphering of directions to increase a person’s ability to traverse the Downtown, while managing information overload and sign clutter.
  3. Incorporate inclusive and universal design into the entire wayfinding program and system so that wayfinding can be used by a wide range of diverse users including children, non-English speakers, and persons with disabilities, including those with (but not limited to) vision, hearing, and/or cognitive impairment. As a reference, Spanish is the language with the largest number of speakers in Grand Rapids other than English.
  4. Welcome and guide the traveling public from gateways into Downtown as well as to and from key destinations and points of interest such as entertainment amenities, colleges & universities, convention center, adjacent medical campuses, museums, parks, and the Grand River.  
  5. Coordinate Downtown wayfinding with existing adjacent non-city wayfinding. Examples include Medical Mile, adjacent college & university campuses, and the proposed regional bikeway/trail wayfinding that is scoped by the West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition.
  6. Develop design standards for wayfinding that are reflective of the City of Grand Rapids’ identity while considering the recently completed guidelines from the River For All Plan that describe wayfinding along the planned river trail system. DGRI’s Streetspace Guidelines should also be used as basis for the wayfinding design and signage to ensure compatibility with the recommended streetscape elements.
  7. Define and identify Downtown and Downtown districts.
  8. Anticipate future development in each area, changes in traffic patterns, new attractions, and increased pedestrian, bicycle, and micromobility vehicle traffic.
  9. To the extent that makes sense, all wayfinding installations should be able to be easily updated by either DGRI and/or City staff to keep content relevant and up to date. The project scope should include recommendations that clarify roles and responsibilities for managing wayfinding signage content and information.
  10. Condense sign clutter to contribute to beautifying Downtown Streetspaces and limit sidewalk obstructions.

The Downtown Wayfinding Program should consider the following types of wayfinding signage:

Pedestrian Signage

Signage designed for use by pedestrians for both directional wayfinding as well as destination wayfinding in order to orient people on foot within the Downtown fabric. Signage should incorporate a variety of installations (kiosks, primary signage, secondary signage etc.) and should consider, evaluate, and potentially integrate and enhance the use of micro-installations such as the existing Walk Your City program.  Attention should be given to accessibility for people with various kinds of ability and non-English speakers.

Vehicular Gateway Signage

Signage designed for vehicular traffic should be directional as well as destination wayfinding; limiting destination identification to significant civic, entertainment and cultural institutions, and to Downtown parking. These signs should function primarily as tools allowing people to easily navigate the downtown and should serve the secondary purposes of acting as a “gateway feature” that allows visitors to be able to distinguish that they have entered Downtown and to introduce visitors to the Downtown’s wayfinding system.

Skywalk Wayfinding

Signage should be designed for pedestrian usage within the Downtown skywalk to provide clear wayfinding throughout the skywalk, highlighting the destinations along the route (places the skywalk passes through) as well as highlighting the skywalk entry and exit points and destinations at those connection points.  In addition to standard signage, skywalk wayfinding should consider the inclusion of digital wayfinding elements such as kiosks, interactive screens and other similar elements. The Grand Rapids skywalk is used significantly by out-of-town visitors staying in hotels and going to Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place.  These users are often confused by where they parked and which way to turn within the skywalk. The consultant should also make system design recommendations consistent with the other elements of the proposed wayfinding system. Refer to Attachment B for existing skywalk system diagram/map.

River and River Trail Wayfinding

Signage for the City’s river trail network (both current and future) and key streets and pedestrian-ways that interface and cross at river trail locations within Downtown.  These signs and navigation aids should function primarily as tools to orient people on foot, on bicycles, or on other micromobility vehicles to the Grand River while providing access cues to the river trail from Downtown. Grand Rapids is currently undertaking a massive river revitalization project that will restore the rapids to the river. This restoration, and the City’s River for All Plan and Guidelines (link included at end of RFP) should be considered when developing river wayfinding elements.

Parking and Mobility Signage

Signage should be designed for both vehicular and pedestrian use and should provide consistency in branding and navigation within the Downtown.  Parking and mobility signage should interface with the other wayfinding sign types in this RFP (pedestrian, vehicular, skywalk, river, and digital) to provide an easy to use interface for downtown users. 

Mobility (specifically bicycle related) signage should consider coordination with the proposed regional bikeway/trail wayfinding that is scoped by the West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition.

Parking signage within this scope should address where parking is located and wayfinding - not rates and availability.  While this project scope includes only Downtown parking signage, transferability to near neighborhoods for consistency of the system should be a consideration in the development of the signage.            

Bicycle parking that may be co-located in public parking facilities along with potential micromobility stations/hubs should be considered as part of the parking and mobility signage type.  

Additionally, mobility signage should consider bicycle and transit navigation within the Downtown as well as identification signage for bicycle parking. 

21st Century Wayfinding

The project should include recommendations and designs for 21st century wayfinding elements to potentially integrate into the Downtown Wayfinding Program as either pilots or phased-in permanent elements. An example includes digital kiosks. Technology tools that support persons with disabilities should also be considered.  In the case of digital kiosks, the consultant should make recommendations for strategic placement and provide housing design for the installations that is consistent with the rest of the wayfinding program.


The selected consultant will work with a steering committee of individuals from DGRI, Mobile GR, City of Grand Rapids Planning, Experience Grand Rapids, the Convention/Arena Authority, Disability Advocates of Kent County, and other potential stakeholders.  DGRI staff will be the primary point of contact and will manage the project. The contract will be facilitated and paid through DGRI.  Services should include, but are not limited to, the following:

Task 1: Analysis

  • Evaluate existing Downtown wayfinding, including existing adjacent university, college, and institutional signage, City parking facility signage, and transit signage.
    1. Determine if existing downtown wayfinding locations are appropriate for future installs or if new locations should be recommended.
    2. Evaluate how existing adjacent university, institutional, parking, transit and other non-Downtown wayfinding signage can be better linked with a new Downtown wayfinding program.
  • Review and evaluate existing Downtown district designations and determine whether these need to be retained, modified, expanded, and/or abandoned.
  • Review existing documents including GR Forward, River For All Guidelines, DGRI Streetspace Guidelines, and other related City documents (links provided at end of RFP).

Task 2: System Design

  • Design signage concepts
  • Develop full sign type array
  • Prepare Opinion of Probable Costs (OPC)
  • Prepare preliminary Asset Management Plan (AMP) that includes estimated operation and maintenance costs.

Task 3: Documentation

  • Prepare sign location plan and sign message schedule
  • Verify site and location
  • Refine OPC and develop phasing plan
  • Refine AMP and include a refined final estimate of operation and maintenance costs of the proposed system.
  • Recommend and define roles and responsibilities for managing wayfinding signage content and information amongst City staff and DGRI.
  • Prepare bid package

Task 4: Implementation*

  • Assist with bid process
  • Review shop drawings, color samples, proofs, etc.
  • Consult with fabricator(s)
  • Conduct final inspection and prepare punch list
  • Develop wayfinding and signage reference manual

*Submitting firms should include separate line item fees for each of five (5) items associated with Task 4 Implementation.  Task 4 will not be part of the scope represented in this RFP but may be added to the project by DGRI (in whole or in part) depending on the outcomes of the first 3 phases, the costs associated with implementation, and the extent of implementation. Fees for Task 4 should assume the consultant’s services to implement the entire wayfinding project. Other tasks typically associated with consultant services associated with implementation may also be recommended and priced in Task 4.

Submitting firms should NOT include the fabrication or installation of any wayfinding signs as those services will be secured through a bidding process (after completion of Task 3) and delivered by a contractor selected through that bidding process.


The project timeframe assumes that this type of work can be done, post Covid-19 shutdowns and that stay at home orders will be relaxed by July 1, 2020.

  • April 22, 2020: RFP Issued
  • May 6, 2020: Deadline to submit RFP Questions/Clarifications (by 4:00pm Eastern Time)
  • May 13, 2020: DGRI response to Questions: (by 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time)
  • Proposals Due: May 20, 2020 (4:00pm Eastern Time)
  • Notice of Selection: June 10, 2020
  • Project Start Date: no later than July 1, 2020
  • Completion of Task 3 (and ready to issue bid package for initial phase): October 14, 2020*


Proposal shall be submitted digitally in PDF format to  No paper or hard copy submittals are required.

Proposal submission shall be no longer than 12 PDF pages. The 12-page limit includes all proposal pages including resumes and any cover and end page.  Size shall be 8½” x 11” in portrait orientation.

Proposal submission shall include, at minimum:

  • Summary of project understanding.
  • Firm overview for lead consultant and any subconsultants proposed to work on project.
  • Project team composition and qualifications that identify all persons that will be actively involved on the project and their roles in the Downtown Wayfinding Program. Identify the project manager. Detail the qualifications, skills, background and relevant experience of the project team.
  • A description of experience in completing work of this type, including three (3) examples of similar projects in an urban context. Include project references.
  • A proposed technical approach that outlines the process to complete the tasks as identified in this RFP.  Include the number meetings (in person and/or virtual) that are proposed for each task of the project and any other virtual meetings or engagement sessions that are proposed.  For the purposes of this proposal, assume that stay at home restrictions will be relaxed by the anticipated project start date.
  • Project schedule that includes a start-to-finish timeline to complete the project.  Include milestone dates, major tasks, and deliverables.
  • Professional fee to complete the work as described. Fees shall include all tasks and staffing necessary to complete the project as outlined above and within your submitted proposal. All reimbursable expenses shall be included in this fee.


Interested consultants are encouraged to send an email to Melvin Eledge ( to register their intent to respond to this RFP. All firms expressing interest will be added to an email distribution list and will be notified if additional information related to the RFP becomes available. Firms failing to register in this manner may not receive all information relevant to the preparation of their proposals.


Inquiries and questions regarding any aspect of this request for proposal should be emailed to Melvin Eledge at  Telephone calls or other methods of communication will not be accepted. 

Request Type
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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