A few additional trees and some construction fencing near the Interstate 17 entrance to Northern Arizona University are only a hint of a significant campus makeover.

NAU will be upgrading entranceways and signs across campus, part of a “wayfinding” project that promises to beautify and unify the look of the campus. The project also has a practical side: It will help people get around NAU’s 700-plus-acre campus.

The project, which began in May with some landscape work near the interchange of McConnell and Pine Knoll drives, consists of two elements.

The first includes entryways and signs for traffic, buildings, public space, ped way and parking. The purpose is to unify the campus with consistent and clearly defined signage throughout.

The project’s second element includes landscape improvements to various locations on campus, most notably the entranceway at McConnell Drive near I-17.

NAU plans to have the McConnell Drive entryway become NAU’s “front door,” according to Rich Bowen, associate vice president of Administration and Finance.

“We’re creating an entryway that will be instantly recognizable as you enter the campus and even as you drive by on the interstate,” Bowen said.

The McConnell-area entryway will have a large, curved sandstone wall and pylons near Pine Knoll. Plantings and additional landscape work will help create the entrance.

The wall, pylons and landscaping are meant to give a “sense of arrival” to the campus, Bowen said.

Planning on the project started more than a year ago. Capital Assets and Services with consultants from ABACUS Project Management and Two Twelve Associates worked with administrators and student groups to design the project.

Most of the work is expected to be completed by mid-August, though complete installation isn’t expected until later in the fall.

View the wayfinding project details online, including more examples of planned campus signage.