Palmetto Health Heart Hospital


Palmetto Health (now Prisma Health) was building a new heart hospital within its large campus in Columbia, SC. To ensure the signage and wayfinding design for the new facility lived up to the spectacular architectural features of the project, the healthcare system’s administrators held a nationwide competition to choose its design firm.

Forcade was selected as Palmetto’s design partner based on our long history and reputation for elevating healthcare design far beyond the typical and uninspiring hospital signage and wayfinding so prevalent in the industry. 

Creating a ripple effect

The new hospital greets patients, visitors and staff with beautiful water features. We extended the pleasant experience of this unique and welcoming element throughout the facility by incorporating “water” in the signage. We created a custom metal swirl design inspired by the ripples of the water fountains to serve as the foundation for all of the signage and wayfinding in the main pedestrian areas. This subtle yet important touch provided a calming and comforting effect as patients and visitors journeyed through the hospital.

Even parking was a positive experience

The five-story parking facility had numerous entrances on different levels that connected to both the new and existing facility. To add to the complexity, different user groups needed to use the same structure for access to different medical procedure areas. We simplified the direction-giving process and eased the stress of arrival by installing attractive graphic landmarks on each floor that featured imagery reminiscent of regional inferences. This bold design element served the necessary purpose of a strong landmarking system to lead users to the correct destination, but just as importantly, it provided an incredibly positive healthcare wayfinding guidance experience.

Built-in flexibility

Like every hospital signage and wayfinding system, we needed to build flexibility into our design. We engineered easily changeable elements into each sign, allowing the system to accommodate the ever-changing needs of a new healthcare facility. This even included writeable signage, providing an attractive, on-brand surface for important room assignment information.

We also built our system to work beyond signage. Our graphic mapping and wayfinding elements were designed to be adopted on the web, in print and within electronic kiosks to provide a consistent and compelling experience no matter where users obtained information.

Embracing the design across the campus

Chosen after a nationwide competition, Forcade did not disappoint the administration and marketing teams at Palmetto Health. In fact, our vibrant approach to healthcare signage and healthcare wayfinding resulted in many elements of our design system for the new heart hospital migrating across the entire 12-building campus.


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