Omfattandestad Airport Wayfinding

KI airport sketch 2

Many years ago when I did a whole bunch of maps about the Koana Islands, I also worked off-and-on on a wayfinding system for the country’s main international airport. This airport has an extraordinarily complicated passenger traffic circulation system because it’s the primary port of entry for the capital of the first among equals in an EU-like bloc of states. So that means you have to sort different passengers based on where they came from and where they’re going, because they all require different sets of customs/immigration/quarantine checks.

(It’s all white and yellow on black because that’s my favorite airport wayfinding color scheme, and it’s similar to what they use at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. The “Koanian” here is just Swedish run through Google Translate.)

I left it sit for a while, and then I came back to it recently because I needed some inspo for a different wayfinding project I’m working on, and I discovered it…still held up pretty well. So I’m posting it here because why not. These are raw sketches, and I never really had a solid blueprint of the airport in my head, so these aren’t exactly internally consistent, but it still gives a general idea of what the signage could look like. I might salvage this general wayfinding design for other projects in the future, maybe.

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Louisville Metro/Suburban Rail Map

louisville crayon

Muffled Bernard Parmigiani playing in the distance.

So while I was working on the Texas map I thought to myself, self, you’ve been digging SB Nation’s history of the Mariners, what if you drew a map in the general style of a Jon Bois infographic? And Jon’s from Louisville, whose baseball team’s colors are red, navy, and white, and so here we are.

I’m not sure how successful it is as a map, considering I had to label each rail line with which services run along it, which I hate doing, but it was interesting trying to communicate a wealth of information using a limited color palette and a really minimalist design language.

Drawing the shuttle buses running through the entertainment/special event complex between (the decadent and depraved) Churchill Downs and the airport was more fun than it probably should have been.

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San Antonio-Austin S-Bahn

san antonio austin commuter rail

Ja. Y’all.

Here’s the result of the Texas poll I did a while back, a little crayon thingy of a S-Bahn network (because the area had a lot of German immigrants, see) for San Antonio and Austin. I originally wanted to do something that owed a bit more to German transit map design but it didn’t work out, so I just busted out the design language I used for those old Japan maps again. (Also appropriate, considering Texas Central wants to use JR technology for their Dallas/Houston high-speed train.)

San Antonio’s old streetcar network is preserved and turned into a Stadtbahn, into which the real-world Via Primo routes are integrated, with the 202 extended north and east so it runs around Loop 410. Austin’s old streetcar network is instead replaced with a U-Bahn similar to those long-term vision plans Capital Metro likes to show us once in a while.

I’m working on the finishing touches of another map that should be up soonish.

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Las Vegas Crayon Map

vegas crayon

Of course, lest we forget, once you’re out the front door you’re STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKIN’ DESERT!

Let’s talk about street grids.

Las Vegas has two: the one downtown, and the one stamped on the entire rest of its built-up area. The big one is extremely regular and regimented, subdividing the city into discrete little squares one after the other. This regularity, I felt, was important to maintain as much as possible when I did this thing. The little one, meanwhile, is set at a slight tilt to the big one, and one of its tendrils, extending far to the south, is Las Vegas Boulevard.

Furthermore, (a) this tilt is not easily resolvable to 45˚ without seriously distorting a large part of the map, to the point where (b) it wouldn’t jibe very well with the mental map I imagine Las Vegas residents have of their city. The easiest way to square this, I imagined, was to tilt the downtown portion of the map such that instead of diagonals going over one unit and up one unit, they’d go over one unit and up two. That way everything still adheres to a nice neat grid and and things will line up more or less okay.

Here’s the problem: downtown would then be set at an angle that wasn’t quite 30˚ (it was actually something like 26.5˚ and change I HAD TO DO TRIGONOMETRY FOR THIS AUGH) and which therefore made actually drawing curves and making sure they lined up the way I wanted them to a profoundly unpleasant experience. There was a lot of manual rotation and other kludging involved, and even though I got things aligned to the point where you only notice the imperfections if you look at it under a microscope, it’s still really irritating, knowing they exist at all.

So anyway, that’s why drawing this map was unfun, why I usually stick to octolinear maps, and why when I saw Vegas win the make-me-draw-a-map poll by a landslide my heart sank. But here it is.

The monorail was rerouted along the Strip, so even if it remains a tourist shuttle it’s an actually useful tourist shuttle. Six BRT lines, because Vegas isn’t quite dense enough for a good LRT network. Three commuter rail lines, two of which do something I swore I’d never force a rail line to do: run along a freeway median. (Which, well, US 95 connects most of the major and minor commercial centers on the northwest side of town, and one of Summerlin’s commercial centers is stickin’ out right there…)

Because I am a glutton for punishment, there might be a Texas poll soon.

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Ireland Rail Map

ireland crayon

If I should fall from grace with God, where no doctor can relieve me…

Here’s a map of Ireland that speculates what would have happened if so many of the railways weren’t closed, based off the infamous 1906 railway map and whichever lines had maps on Wikipedia. Also includes the following flights of fancy:

  • A politically united Ireland and divided Great Britain. Independent Scotland rejoins the EU and both it and Ireland enter Schengen.
  • The DART Underground/Interconnector/whatever they’re calling it this time.
  • Underground railways beneath Belfast and Cork, in order to conveniently hook up some of the old terminals.
  • Overground railways above Tralee and Waterford.
  • A Dublin Metro, based on the current plans from St Stephen’s Green to Estuary via Airport but extended south to Terenure to hook up with the reactivated Blessington tramway.
  • Whichever Luas extensions are inhabiting pols’ fuzzy little dreamworlds at the moment.
  • The Belturbet-Ballyhaise branch converted to narrow gauge.
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Washington RER Strip Map

washington union station rer strip map

Step back, doors closing.

A little bonus thing I dusted off after finishing the Brisbane map. It’s a [partial] strip map of Baltimore/DC’s crayon suburban rail system, showing all the places that are a one-seat ride from Union Station itself. It uses an earlier, less developed version of the Baltimore map’s design language, and the geography of the Line 3 branches into WV and PA are backward, but I like to think it still holds up pretty well.

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Brisbane Tram Map

brisbane stadtbahn

[muffled Zero Punctuation playing in the distance]

Wanted to draw something to see how Brisbane’s tram network would look if it (a) stuck around and (b) was integrated into the busway network, and the result was something like a German stadtbahn. (Hence why the color scheme was ganked from the tram system in Hannover.) Also has a mildly crayoney rendition of the suburban rail network (+ Cross River Rail) that may or may not be expanded upon later.

The Brisbane Metro high-frequency BRT plan is intriguing.

Sources: A, B, C, D, E, F, Wikipedia.

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Chicago L Map

chicago l with line numbers


This map exists for two reasons:

  • The official L map has an inset for the Loop because something something fealty to geography. Meanwhile, I hate insets. What’s more, the majority of the L maps that don’t have an inset distort the Loop to the point where it’s wider than it is long, which quite frankly looks ridiculous. I wanted a map that didn’t have an inset but still kept the Loop somewhat geographically proportional. The end result, as it turns out, makes the Loop a perfect square, albeit at the expense of some geographic fudging (especially around Library station) so nothing overlapped anything else.
  • The L has a color-based naming system, and eight lines is about where you max out with that sort of nomenclature before it gets unwieldy. Also I generally take issue with line names instead of letters or numbers because even stuff like “Green Line” or “Orange Line” has to be set on such small type on the strip maps that it’s almost unreadable from a distance. Numbering the different L lines makes a bit more sense, and prefixing each number with “L” Barcelona-style differentiates them from the also-numbered bus lines. (And it’s also makes a nice little reference to the name of the system.)

I didn’t smooth out very many of the other kinks and jogs that are shown on the official map because I have this hunch that they’re integral to Chicagoans’ mental map of the system, and trying to line up as many of the identally-named stations as I could was irresistible.

Anyway here it is.

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Sacramento Crayon Map

sacramento crayon with straight d line


[Housekeeping: I spent most of October writing a big ugly piece about the Nostalgia Critic and his review of The Wall because it irritated me just that much. Please read and validate my suffering. First part is here, there’s a link to the next part at the bottom.]

Here’s crayon of the old, surprisingly extensive interurban system that used to radiate out of Sacramento. More geographically accurate in the center around Sac itself, deliberately compressed and distorted up toward Chico and down toward SF and the Central Valley. This is probably one of the most distorted transit maps of the Bay Area ever made (although a bunch of really old streetcar maps of Oakland (e.g.) do the same thing IIRC, so it’s not like there isn’t precedent).

Given how the upper and lower portions of the map still manage (I think) to be legible even though the stations are spaced very closely together, this one’s made me seriously think about how I use space in my maps and what I can do to use space more efficiently.

Should probably also note that interurban flag stops don’t necessarily carry a negative low-ridership connotation with me because whenever I go to Philly I take the NHSL, whose entire route is flag stops, and that’s the sole reason it can legitimately call itself a high speed line.

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California HSR Strip Map

california hsr strip map

Gavin Newsom can bite me.

Hello. This is the first map I’ve managed to get done in a while that wasn’t stillborn. Mea culpa.

This is a crayoney strip map of the California HSR project. We might see the central spine completed before climate change fries the Central Valley, but I’m not holding my breath. The interchange info comes from a ton of crayon maps that exist only in computer and Google Earth sketches.

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