Support Crosscut

Fix This! Crosscut’s Design Review Board needs you

Our recent rant story on the impossibility of finding the train to Seattle from Sea-Tac Airport apparently struck a nerve. Lots of nerves.

Clearly, we’re not the only ones who think that Sound Transit’s Link light rail signage at SeaTac, ah, sucks. But instead of complaining, we’ve decided to do something about it. Because here at Crosscut, we're about solutions!

We hereby announce Crosscut’s first ever Fix This! Design Challenge, overseen by our new and completely unaccountable Crosscut Design Review Board™.

The CDRB’s mission is to call out public design folly and engage you, dear users, in finding a better way. Think of it as crowd-sourcing our way to more intuitive and elegant urban living.

[Aside to design professionals: We do realize that design "contests," while a fine way to generate a yearbook cover or even the occasional transit agency logo, are not always the best route to high quality design. But they sure are fun! And you never know. Remember, Nike got its swoosh from a graphic design student at Portland State.]

For our inaugural Design Challenge we’ve selected one small aspect of light rail signage: the route map. We invite, indeed implore you, design amateurs and professionals alike, to come up with a superior approach. (See Submission Guidelines below.)

So, here’s the challenge: The light rail map pictured below appears above the doors of every light rail car. We think the map is, well, lame for reasons detailed here. Your job, as contestants, is to imagine yourself a newcomer to the region who is trying to take light rail from the airport to some downtown Seattle hotel. You have traversed concourses, escalators and parking garages before finally finding the light rail train and this (Right click on the image to download and enlarge):

What would a better, clearer map of our light rail line system look like? Show us how you'd display the kind of information a newbie would need if he or she were trying to reach Seattle?

The deadline for submissions is 5pm Friday, February 1, 2013. The CDRB™ will judge all submissions and announce the winner on Friday, February 8, at which time we’ll post the winning design — along with the runner-up — for your review and commentary. There's a $25 Starbucks gift card in it for the winning design, and a meeting with transit officials.

Now get busy – and good luck!

Submission Guidelines: Send pdfs of the design, plus a brief (one page tops) explaining your approach to editor@crosscut.com no later than 5pm Friday, February 1, 2013. Subject Line: Fix This!

Support Crosscut