Penn Station Atlas Designer


About the designer: John Schettino

I'm a design generalist who likes to work from the big, often blurry, picture and progressively bring things into focus. I have a strong foundation in graphic design and use a multi-disciplinary approach to address the needs of complex projects. In practice, this means work that has drawn from divergent fields including art history, user experience, business strategy and social sciences, as well as a variety of other areas.

In addition to being a designer I’m also a person who uses Penn Station on a frequent basis. Like many folks in Penn, I always use the station for one purpose. Prior to this project, I found that even though I used Penn regularly, because my trip was a repeating pattern, it was astonishingly easy to get lost whenever I departed from my usual path in the station.

And while the regular challenge of navigating Penn was part of the impetus for this project, I also saw Penn as an embodiment of a critical overlap of urbanism and mobility; two forces that are increasingly transforming everyday life. From that perspective, I conceived of The Penn Station Atlas as a way to apply my design abilities to a project that could have a positive impact on one small aspect of our shared urban experience.

To start, I looked at maps of Penn and began making regular visits to the station to study and understand the place – the landmarks, districts, paths and people that comprise the Penn environment. Eventually, I started to discretely inventory and document the station with notes, drawings, and photos. As I accumulated information, I constantly triangulated: my diagrams against existing maps of Penn and then both of those things against my own observed experience while trying to find my way. Over time, I developed dozens of versions of maps and models until pausing the process and rolling up the most effective prototype versions into the demonstration video that’s featured on the home page of this site.

As a designer, I’ve worked on large projects that have often been focused on helping people navigate complicated environments, Some of those projects have included large retail environments in major cities with thousands of people per day flowing through them, and others have been online environments dependent on clearly structured information architecture to make large volumes of information and pages navigable. This project reflects my interest in ways that the intersection of information architecture and the architecture of built environments can be joined to help people get from point A to point B.

For more detailed information about me and the projects that I’ve worked on, please visit my design business website at the link below.

Related links to the work that I do:

J/S/D John Schettino Design (design business website)

Art (my artwork; sculpture, installation and work on paper)

John Schettino