WalkNYC pedestrian wayfinding system

Project:
WalkNYC pedestrian wayfinding system

Client:
NYC Department of Transportation (NYC DOT)

Creative director:
Michael Bierut
Mike Rawlinson

Firm:
Pentagram (under the joint venture PentaCityGroup)

CityID
Pentagram
T-Kartor
Billings Jackson
RBA Group

WalkNYC is a wayfinding program that makes it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate New York City’s streets. The graphic program consists of a variety of streetscape elements centered on a system of maps, which are applied to strategically placed kiosks throughout the city. The kiosks present two maps, one of local streets and the other of the area’s location in relation to a larger section of the city. While the old maps situated the user on a fixed-north grid, the new maps are drawn in “heads-up” orientation so that the user faces the same direction on the street.

A unique system of icons was designed for the maps and includes the drawings of New York’s landmark buildings, including skyscrapers, bridges, and memorials. Typeface designers Monotype created a custom version of Helvetica for the program called NeueHelvetica DOT, complementing the iconic graphic language of the city’s subway system originally designed by Bob Noorda and Massimo Vignelli of Unimark International in 1970.

The WalkNYC system has been installed in all five boroughs of New York, making it the city’s first integrated wayfinding system.

The size of the signs respond to their placement on the street: narrow signs for corridors, medium signs for regular areas, and wide signs for open spaces.

A custom version of Neue Helvetica was developed by Monotype. The new typeface, NeueHelveticaDOT, changes the tittles above the i and j’s from rectangles to circles.

Hundreds of New York landmarks and buildings that aid in wayfinding were drawn to be used on the maps as markers, and with “off map pointers” to indicate an area off the visble map.

The totem system has been installed in all five boroughs of New York Cit, making it the city’s first integrated wayfinding system.