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Living Legacy: 92-year-old awarded for her graphic designs still in use at Tampa International

Wayfinding pioneer and original TPA designer Jane Davis Doggett was awarded for her graphic designs guiding people through public spaces across the world.

TAMPA, Fla. — If you’re one of the 15 to 25 million people who fly through Tampa International Airport, it may not be a surprise to you that it holds the No. 1 spot as the top airport in the country.

One of the main people to thank for that is 92-year-old graphic designer Jane Davis Doggett. It’s work she did in the 1960s and it’s still around today.

“The fact that the airport is still vibrant is nothing short of amazing,” Doggett said.

If you get to meet Doggett, you’ll quickly see that she’s quite the firecracker. She’s known in the aviation industry as a Wayfinder.

In the late 1960s, she was part of a team that designed what was then heralded as the most modern airport in the world, Tampa International. Before its opening in 1971, Doggett created the logo and blue and red zoning helping people get from the airport's entrance to their gate. If you notice, the color-coded signs referring you to the red or blue side start the moment you drive on airport property. That was all Jane.  

Her story on display at the airport is titled "the red and blue gateways to the skies." The wayfinding system she created was considered revolutionary.

“I did a lot of dimensional modeling because I’ve found, that people can’t read plans. They usually pretended to,” Doggett said.

Tampa CEO Joe Lopano praised the cutting-edge graphic designer and architect for knowing exactly how to guide people through public spaces.

“People don’t register north and south, but they can register red and blue. So, she basically simplified the wayfinding system. She did that for many airports,” Lopano said.

Doggett's designs span more than 40 airports. Her graphic systems using letters, colors, and symbols are international. From airports to arenas like Madison Square Garden and even transit systems.

“She was in a world of all men, but she was a tough cookie,” Lopano said.  “She would basically tell them, no I don’t think that’s the right idea. Here’s what you need to do. You guys are a bunch of engineers and architects let’s do it the right way. Let’s think about how human beings actually want to see things.

Doggett was born and raised in Nashville, Tenn. She got her master’s in architecture and design at Yale University where her designs are still on display.

Breaking boundaries for females in aviation, Doggett was recently given the spirit of flight award from TPA. 

In 2016 she was also inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

Her message for women striving for success in their own industries is to keep striving. "Women have proven that they can do this work. I think we just needed society to grow up.”

Doggett says her work isn’t done yet. She is currently working on a memoir for Yale University. TPA’s CEO says there are no plans to change any of her work, any time soon.  

RELATED: Females in flight: Local event celebrates 75th anniversary of world's first all-woman air show in Tampa

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