Uniting Past and Present at The Riverside Church

January 28, 2019


The Riverside Church is a stunning Neo-Gothic cathedral that stands over 20 storeys above upper Manhattan, overlooking the Hudson River. The tallest church in the United States, it has a powerful history of activism, political debate, and social justice, and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

After a years-long endeavor, The Riverside Church started to roll out its brand redesign. The new brand was implemented to create a fresh look for the Church, reflecting the diverse culture and colourful personality of the congregation and community.

In order to get a clear understanding of the signage and wayfinding issues facing The Riverside Church, Entro | CVEDesign undertook several site surveys from the point of view of a first-time visitor while taking note of the existing conditions, including architectural and signage navigational cues.

Our challenge was immense: the Church’s enormous size, intricate medieval stone interior, a grade change within the structure, 80+ years of cobbled, overlapping, outdated signage, and a new brand implementation program layered on top made navigation through the space overwhelming and confusing to the hundreds of unique visitors a day. Clear and concise wayfinding was essential to help navigate the expansive Church interior. To future-proof the system, we chose the simplest, most elegant solution for updates to the face panels: magnets.

We designed this system by queueing the new brand alongside the classic architecture, uniting the Church’s powerful history with its bright future. We merged The Riverside Church’s new brand colors with elaborate, detailed back panels that honored the existing ironwork and stained glass—a timeless welcome and guidance for hundreds of thousands of unique visitors each year.