New Walk City: Just Like We Pictured It —How NYC's street maps were designed

New Walk City: Just Like We Pictured It 

How PentaCityGroup designed NYC's street maps

Ever wondered how you got here? New York City’s Department of Transportation is introducing WalkNYC and Citi Bike to the city’s streets this year. Pedestrian wayfinding signs and Citi Bike kiosks which both feature new maps of the city are popping up across the boroughs. As locals and visitors, walkers and bikers, orient, explore and discover neighborhoods, these striking maps are turning New Yorkers’ heads and re-envisioning our image of this city.

Wendy Bell (T-Kartor), Hamish Smyth (Pentagram) and David Gillam (City ID), as representatives of design consortium PentaCityGroup, will reveal the process their all-star team of information designers, policy makers, GIS experts, industrial designers, engineers and urban omnivores followed to create a comprehensive, beautiful and functional wayfinding system. Wendy, Hamish and David will describe the system and the new mapping database which is at it’s heart. Rachel Abrams (Turnstone Consulting), AIGA/NY board member and Special Advisor to PentaCityGroup, will introduce the evening.

WENDY BELL, T-Kartor
A self described urban enthusiast, Wendy Bell joined T-Kartor in 2012 with a background in urban landscape architecture and planning. Receiving her BLA from the University of Georgia, Wendy has since been involved with the design and planning of parks, bike and pedestrian facilities, streetscapes, and plazas in Charleston, South Carolina and Portland, Oregon, as well as in New York City and Long Island.

With T-Kartor, Wendy leads the graphic and content coordination and development of the map database for the WalkNYC and Citi Bike products. Bringing to the project a keen understanding of how public spaces are designed to work, Wendy enjoys the process of transforming raw GIS data into a beautiful and functional cartographic database suitable for urban wayfinding.

DAVID GILLAM, City ID
Graduating from the University of the West of England with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and a keen interest in what makes cities tick, David joined City ID in 2007.

Since joining City ID David has developed numerous citywide and regional projects, leading the design development and project co-ordination of wayfinding and transport information systems in the UK and internationally. David played a key role in the development of the Legible London wayfinding system and pilot scheme in Richmond and Twickenham, the London 2012 Olympic Park Transformation wayfinding strategy, and recently led the design development of Interconnect West Midlands – including a range of regional multi-modal transportation, wayfinding, public realm and identity projects in the region.

Now based in NYC, David is working on the design development of WalkNYC and planning future project phases.

HAMISH SMYTH, Pentagram
Hamish studied communication design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University) in Australia, where he received a Bachelor of Communications Design, Honors with distinction.

Hamish joined Pentagram New York in 2010 under the direction of Michael Bierut, where he has worked on numerous branding, identity, publication, signage, and wayfinding projects. A self described map nerd, Hamish worked closely with the other members of PentaCityGroup and Bierut’s team at Pentagram on the graphic design of WalkNYC.

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  • Vasanth V.

    I liked the deep-dive approach taken by the presenters which covered everything from strategy to execution. Its very easy to fix a usability issue on a website but physical signage are harder to envision because they are more permanent in nature and the usability testing is harder. A very insightful and useful presentation.

    December 18, 2013

  • Alex A.

    Revealing look at how the assembled team balanced traditional design elements with practical wayfinding/usability considerations to meet the needs of the most diverse group of end-users in the world. Favorite anecdote was Wendy Bell's, addressing iconography challenges uncovered in user testing: "Most people under 20 couldn't identify a post office [on the map] and most people over 60 couldn't identify the wireless icon." Really cool/original topic/execution - looking forward to the next one.

    1 · December 18, 2013

  • John J. C.

    A great presentation on what all it took to pull things together. Thanks to the speakers for putting aside their personal time in a busy holiday season to share their work and craft. Cannot imagine what it took to coordinate all the presenters' schedules for this talk. Props to Jennifer and the FB staff for their enthusiasm and effort.

    1 · December 17, 2013

  • Boris C.

    Good talk. Good overview of the design process, and final product demo. Great work!

    1 · December 17, 2013

  • annemarie l.

    It was awesome. I loved that it had a different perspective (maps/gov't) than the topics usually covered at NYC meetups. The speakers did a great job.

    1 · December 17, 2013

  • Scott

    Hamish Smyth- That's all I have to say. Well on second thought, how about that customized Helvetica....

    1 · December 17, 2013

  • jkilian

    Thanks for the event feedback. Please keep it coming! We will try to be more explicit in the descriptions in the future about when a presentation will be the full case study of a project like last night's, and when it will show more raw iterative process and prototypes.

    December 17, 2013

  • zorrilla m.

    Sad I had to miss because of work!

    December 17, 2013

  • Azam Z.

    Very informative, well structured, and interesting Q&A

    1 · December 16, 2013

  • Ekta

    Great presentation about process

    1 · December 16, 2013

  • Brian C.

    Due to events beyond my control i will have to sit this one out.

    December 16, 2013

  • Vicky H.

    Sadly I won't be able to go... Someone please take my spot - Quick! :)

    December 16, 2013

  • Jiro K.

    Can I still take my friend with me? the confirmation email says
    "Invite 1 friend
    Simply forward this email to a friend."

    December 11, 2013

    • jkilian

      Hi Jiro, I need your friend's full name right away if you still want to bring someone. Thanks, Jennifer

      December 16, 2013

    • Jiro K.

      I'll go there by myself for tonight. Thanks!

      December 16, 2013

  • Tan A.

    Hey I know I'm super late but any chance I could get in?

    December 16, 2013

    • jkilian

      Hi Tan, I have added you to the guest list.

      1 · December 16, 2013

    • Tan A.

      Thank you!

      December 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sounds awesome and want in!

    1 · November 15, 2013

    • jkilian

      I've added you to the attendee list, Jen.

      December 16, 2013

  • Katy K.

    Is there any hope for those on the Waitlist?

    1 · December 6, 2013

    • jkilian

      Yes we have been able to open up and accept the waitlist :)

      December 16, 2013

  • jkilian

    We can't wait to host you all at our space for this amazing event on Monday night! We only have room for 120 in the space, so please be sure you will attend if you responded yes. If not, you can change your attendance response to free up spots for those on the wait list. Thanks all! Jennifer

    1 · December 11, 2013

  • Scott

    Is FaceBook planning a surprise Holiday party for us....
    Is that the reason for the date change.
    The "Coolest Creatives" and now this. (:

    1 · November 26, 2013

  • Scott

    Best of NYC creatives at a cool space. Count me in.
    Thanks!!

    1 · November 15, 2013

  • Ramy N.

    Amazing lineup of speakers! Thanks FBNY for hosting this.

    1 · November 14, 2013

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