Rare Hectic Energy vs Slavish Geometric Inaccuracy « Burrito Justice
a critique of the new BART maps (not the picture above):
BART, however, takes the brute force approach and straight-lines it from Embarcadero — blowing out not just the Mission curve but the Bernal curve as well — with one straight shot to Daly City, and even spacing between stations. There’s not much point showing it as an extract.
Then there’s the ridiculously detailed coastline and the airport in the middle of the peninsula, but now we are being unfair. As a commenter Neil noted on the Design Observer article, the new map is “strangely half-assed.” I suppose the intent was noble but the end result is disappointing.
As the Rachel Berger of the Design Observer article concludes,
Ultimately, how a transit map looks communicates information about the people who designed it, the people for whom it was designed, and the place it represents. Certain transit maps have come to symbolize the very spirit and character of a place. In Metro Maps of the World, author Mark Ovenden claims it “difficult to imagine an image more ingrained into the very psyche of a population” than the London Underground map. Ovenden also maligns the “slavish topographic accuracy” of the old BART map. Yet loyalty to topography is what gave the old map its unique visual qualities. Besides, the new BART map engages slavish geometric inaccuracy. The BART system, with five lines and forty-three stations, is simple. The new map feels inauthentic. Lines have been straightened for straightness’s sake, not to solve design problems. The BART map gained legibility but lost a rare hectic energy. Now that the old map is nearly gone, I realize how wonderful it has been to be confronted by a poetic, painterly map, by a map that makes me uncomfortable.’
(the image is of the reductio ad absurdum BART map t-shirt)