Parking in New York is a famously expensive, famously shady, and famously dangerous affair.
That’s all about to change. As part of her mission to make New Yorkers safer on their streets, Sadik-Khan (Department of Transportation Commissioner) enlisted Pentagram to redesign the signs earlier this year.
They began by working with the DoT to whittle down the content of each sign. The new messages are no longer than a tweet, at 140 characters--a nearly 50% reduction in text. When it came to reimagining the signs themselves, Bierut was drawn to changing the size of the placard, but quickly realized that economies of scale and materials in the DoT workshop made that impossible. The sign sizes would stay the same.
Instead, Bierut focused on typeface, size, and color. The team pared down the number type sizes to two, and changed the background colors to white. Red type is for commercial vehicles, and green works for private cars. They left-justified the text and chose smaller font sizes to reduce the visual clutter of the old signs, creating a basic hierarchy of information that makes an incredible difference. According to the Observer, they toyed with using Helvetica, which would have been a nod to Massimo Vignelli’s MTA signage. But after rounds of iterations, the team settled on a classic transit typeface: Interstate, designed in 1949 by Tobias Frere-Jones for the Federal Highway Administration.