Yavapai College Masterplan

Looking to its future, Yavapai Community College (YCC) wanted a plan of action. It faced the same challenges other colleges faced; the unpredictability of budgets, the need to prepare students for a global economy, and the call to foster economic and cultural growth in the community. A new Master Plan for its Prescott and Verde Valley campuses would help the college strategically prepare to make decisions about capital allocation and development, but perhaps there was something more ethereal. A college campus experience expresses something about the quality of an institution’s academic and social mission. But a campus also sustains the aspirations of real people in the rural communities that are its home.

Directory DesignYCC solicited help in creating a Master Plan for its two most developed campuses from the architectural firm of SmithGroupJJR. Colleges today need to be flexible and resilient spaces that provide a holistic learning experience. SmithGroupJJR’s Master Plan for classrooms, open space and support services would have an impact on the character of the campus for years to come. Thinking Caps Design was invited to join the team as the wayfinding consultant.

The plan called for preserving and integrating open spaces into the campuses infrastructure that would provide programmable and informal interactions complimentary to academic pursuits. Thinking Caps Design set out to distinctly position the college’s brand and enhance the campus experience through aesthetically engaging building identity and wayfinding design on both campuses. Some directional and wayfinding systems existed but the organizational hierarchy was not consistent and re-tooling was needed to unify the two campuses visually.


In order to design strategies and solutions that are sustainable and realistic, it is essential to gather a breadth of input from individuals with varied expertise and knowledge of the college’s history and culture. Thinking Caps Design methodically gathered feedback from a committee of college leaders, staff, facilities managers, marketing and maintenance professionals to define preferences in terms of style, messaging and materials. Their valuable insights resulted in a solution that was flexible, easy to update and sourced locally. To synchronize the campus with its surroundings, Thinking Caps Design drew upon central Arizona themes and landscape imagery.

Thinking Caps Design’s work on the Yavapai College project was honored by the local chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts at its annual conference. The first phase of implementation of the signage was crafted and installed masterfully by Sierra Signs, a local fabrication company.

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