T-Kartor and partners deliver ‘WalkNYC’ pedestrian wayfinding system

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A new pedestrian wayfinding system known as WalkNYC has been introduced in the city of New York.

Commissioned by the New York City Department of Transportation and its partners, the system offers pedestrians a series of stylised maps, orientated to ‘heads up’ so the top of the map is always displaying the same direction that the user is facing. This is, in part a reaction to research that showed 33% of people on the streets of the city could not identify which direction was North. The same research highlighted that 13% of locals were not aware of the neighbourhood or borough they were in when questioned.

The project is as much about finding the best way around on foot and discovering points of interest as it is about orientating oneself within the city landscape.

WalkNYC was delivered by PentaCityGroup, a consortium of:

  • T-Kartor who designed the geographic database and manage cartographic production
  • Billings Jackson Design – industrial designers
  • City ID – wayfinding experts
  • Pentagram – graphic designers
  • RBA Group – engineers and urban planners

The project is also an extension of the city brand, utilising a new version of the Helvetica font which is used elsewhere in the urban realm. The design also uses a palette inspired by colours within the city, icons that are based on certain design aspects of the Helvetica typeface and an overall look and feel that is reflective of the graphics used within the subway system.

Phase 1 of the roll-out will include approximately 100 ‘totems’ of varying widths dependant on location and will feature the same mapping style already used for the CityBike cycle hire scheme which has 300 stations so far and continues to grow.

Future phases of the project will look to expand the system over a wider geographic area and to include information about other transport modes. Developing into digital and other print channels is also being discussed.