Visitors to Goshen College may soon be welcomed onto campus by new entrance monuments, as plans are in place for new signage on campus, pending approval from the city of Goshen.The current plan is to install new signs in two main entrances to campus: the Welcome Center entrance off of Main Street, and the newly constructed entrance on the north side of campus, off of 10th Street. However, the overall project goes well beyond just those initial steps.
Cynthia Good Kaufmann, interim director of facilities, explained that the college also wants “to improve the corner of Main and College Ave. with the Westlawn project and work on improving the secondary entrances at Newcomer and 12th street.” The main goal is to improve “wayfinding […] on the exterior boundaries of campus” to improve how visitors interface with GC’s campus.
Wayfinding has become a more important issue recently, as the college needs “a way to direct visitors to the Welcome Center other than “turn when you see the American flag at the Hospital!’” as Kaufmann put it.
Pressure from the city prompted the construction of a new entrance off of 10th street, as the city of Goshen would like to see the north entrance directly east of the railroad tracks closed.
“Donors are eager for an improved entrance off of College Avenue that highlights the Music Center and helps improve wayfinding to our Athletic Complex,” Kaufmann said, which is the goal of the new entrance on 10th Street that opened last year. “It will also open up the east side of the campus to remind people driving by why College Avenue has that name.”
Overall, new entrance monuments at key places on campus will serve several purposes. Replacing signs that are difficult to read while in a car is one purpose; brand and image for the college is another. The signs will also likely bear the college’s seal, which will make the overall campus aesthetic more consistent.
As it stands, GC’s current entrance signage “represents different eras and forms an eclectic mix,” according to Ben Bontrager, vice president for operations. “One of the goals of the project is to develop a more consistent theme of style and constructed materials at our entrances.”
College Mennonite Church might see their own sign upgraded as well. A recent bid by the church to upgrade their large limestone sign was rejected by the city. College Mennonite Church and GC are planning on working together to add College Mennonite’s sign to the larger GC master plan and change it as part of the larger campus upgrade.
One sign that’s not going anywhere on campus, however, is the entrance arch off of Eighth Street. The stone walls and iron arch that make up the background of many Instagram posts created by incoming freshmen and outgoing seniors are here to stay, and it’s going to play a big role in the design of the new signs.
“We are asking the architect to use the Eighth Street gate to inform their design,” said Kaufmann. “The gate has been there for […] a long time.”
One hundred and seventeen years to be exact, according to Joe Springer, curator of the Mennonite Historical Library. It was erected in 1905 by members of the Aurora Literary Society, which Springer describes as one of the “main sources of social life on campus” at the time. Officially, the gate is called the Aurora Arch, or Aurora Gate.
“The monument sign off of Eighth Street and College Ave is iconic on the campus and has provided some of the best photo opportunities,” said Bontrager. “I think about it most days as I drive toward campus on Eighth Street.”
The timeline for activity on the plan is still up in the air, but optimistic reports from Kaufmann and Bontrager say it could start as soon as this summer. Funding and permit processes could delay things, though the college hopes to submit all the plans at once to expedite the permit process.
Regardless of whether the plans get approved a year from now or tomorrow, new signs are just one part of GC’s larger plan to increase campus accessibility and improve the overall visitor experience.