A Wayfinding Smorgasbord


I did not think it was possible for our class to do so many different things within two weeks, but upon reflecting over our class time, I realize that we (like usual) have discussed and worked on an incredible range of topics. For this reason, combined with the facts that a) I enjoyed writing a bit about a variety of different things last time I posted, and b) the positive feedback regarding this post, I have decided to stick with the same format for this post as well. Consequently, below you can find the five topics I will cover in this blog post:

  1. Rain at NYUAD
  2. Professor Depaz on Interactivity
  3. Pictograms
  4. Roberto Casati (2/16 Lecture)
  5. Typefaces

(1) Rain at NYUAD

The first topic I wanted to bring up briefly regards an observation I had this past week. As I am sure all of you noticed, there was quite heavy rain not too long ago. While many people enjoyed this rare phenomena – as did the foliage around campus – I could not help but notice that the NYUAD campus does not seem well prepared for rain. In turn, this reminded me of Professor Puccetti’s saying, “Bad design is easily realized when bad things happen.” While rain is not technically a “bad thing,” it is certainly an uncommon phenomena in this climate and thus puts the architecture, infrastructure, and design to an ultimate test. In regards to the rain on campus, I specifically noticed the following issues:

  1. During the rain, people walking around campus (people who, obviously, do not carry umbrellas considering the usual weather) were forced to get soaked. This occurred despite there being protruding roofs around most of the buildings that permit people to walk outside without getting wet, for this benefit is completely negated by the face that there are often gaps between the buildings without any covering at all. It is a pity that 80% of the campus is walkable during the rain, but since 20% of it is not, in the end everyone must still get wet.
  2. Many hours after the rain had finished (and the hot sun had come out to dry everything off) I noticed two more issues: a) lots of water was still dripping off of the bridges onto the ground floor, which was not pleasant for the people walking around underneath them, and b) on some of the streets that connect the internal part of the campus to the streets outside, there were huge puddles of water. These short streets, being slightly slanted downwards towards the outside of campus, should have made drainage of water easy; however, their slants were not well-designed / perfectly sloped, and thus lots of water stayed trapped on them. I wish I had taken a picture of these streets when I saw them, but I found a picture online that demonstrates how they looked (although the puddles in reality were significantly bigger):
Many streets at NYUAD were covered in puddles after the rain. https://englishmaniniceland.wordpress.com /2013/03/16/sunshine-through-the-rain/

All of this led me to wonder: is it just the NYUAD campus, or does the entire UAE struggle coping with rain? I did some research, and I found article after article about instances of flooding in the UAE; clearly, infrastructure here is not prepared to handle the stress of unusual (i.e. wet or cold) weather. What is the saddest thing about this entire topic, of course, is the fact that people’s lives are truly in danger when design (of all sorts) does not take into account these types of non-typical but yet predictable events: people in the UAE have actually died as the result of mass floods (whether because of street accidents or other reasons). Below I list two links to articles regarding flooding in the UAE:

Last note on this topic: while rain is definitely a problem for the UAE, there is no way that this issue is unique. Undoubtedly, most infrastructure in any part of the world is designed in such a way to function well in the climate and weather that is most typical. Clearly, our job as designers is to always remember to plan for non-typical situations, whether that be emergencies, natural disasters, or something as simple as rain.

(2) Professor Depaz on Interactivity

Joining Professor Depaz’s Alternate Realities class recently was particularly nice: it was interesting to get a chance to learn more about interfaces. The video we were to watch prior to the class was great; I had actually read an article by Brett Victor on the same subject before, but I enjoyed learning about his ideas in a more fleshed-out manner. I include the notes I took during Professor Depaz’s lecture below.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 22.06.18

The biggest take-away from this lecture and the associated article/video is that future technology does not have to be composed solely of screens. If we limit our imaginations to creating more and more glossy screens, and continue to use screens as our sole interfaces, we are both a) restricting the types of technology we can create and b) wasting our other human capabilities (spatial, aural, kinesthetic, etc.). As human societies progress, we must keep in mind these other aspects of our humanity, and incorporate them into technology in order to create a more human future.

(3) Pictograms

Here I will post my pictograms in order to continue keeping a record of the various projects that we are accomplishing in this class.

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In continuing to work on this project and move towards implementing it, there are several things I must consider/attend to:

  • There are several small issues with the drawings that I did not notice until I printed them out; I will need to return to Illustrator and fix these issues (e.g. an arm not attaching well to a shoulder, and others).
  • I need to consider whether there is anything physical that I can add to this experience: for example, should I place an “X” on the ground to mark where the pole should go? Should I include some sort of “landing” mark on the other side of the grass to show where the pole vaulter should ideally land? Would these physical aspects enhance or detract from the purpose of these pictograms?
  • In regards to implementation, I must consider what materials I should use to make the sign. Should I use something sturdy like acrylic, or should I use a high-quality poster material?
  • Additionally, I must consider the sign placement: should the sign be low to the ground (which is where “stay off the grass” signs are typically located) or should it be higher up, so that it is easier to notice and read?

These are only some of the many questions I must continue to seek answers to as I develop these pictograms and eventually implement them. I must admit I am extremely excited to see my own work actually take form and become a reality.

(4) Roberto Casati’s 2/16 Lecture

I feel so fortunate to have been able to hear the second of Robert Casati’s two lectures, “Navigation as Instrumental Negotiation”; the first was great, but I actually enjoyed the second one even more.

Below I detail 1) general notes from the lecture, and 2) a few key insights from the Q & A session which followed.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 22.03.00


(5) Typefaces

As a lover of typefaces, I was really excited when Professor Puccetti announced that we would be spending an entire class learning about them. I completely agree that typefaces are so much more important – in basically every way I can think of – than people give them credit for. Below I include (an extremely brief) list of take-aways from our lectures on typefaces.



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