Design Book Conversation: “The New York Subway Map Debate”

Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 6:30 - 8pm

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Subway map event

Join us for a free online roundtable conversation about The New York Subway Map Debate, the new book from Gary Hustwit and Standards Manual which documents a pivotal event in design history: the 1978 debate at The Cooper Union between designer Massimo Vignelli and cartographer John Tauranac over the future of the NYC Subway Map.

An audio recording of the event from the upcoming digital Cooper Union archive Voices from the Great Hall has shed light on this legendary confrontation. For over two hours, to the cheers and boos of a raucous audience of designers, transit officials and disgruntled subway riders, Vignelli, Tauranac, and a panel of eight other experts argued. It was abstraction versus realism, simplicity versus complexity. The new book offers a hyper-specific window into the event, encompassing the worlds of graphic design, wayfinding, transit, data visualization and the eternal battle between form and content.

Registration required. Webinar link will be emailed and made available on the Eventbrite online event page.

More information about the book at:

The conversation will feature:

  • Gary Hustwit, design filmmaker and book editor
  • Jesse Reed, designer at Order / Standards Manual
  • Jennifer Whitlock, archivist, Vignelli Center for Design Studies
  • John Tauranac, author and cartographer
  • Felipe Memoria, designer and founding partner, Work & Co.
  • Mary Mann, Archives Librarian, Cooper Union
  • Chialin Chou, Project Archivist, Voices from The Great Hall Digital Access Project

Event presented by the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography, at The Cooper Union.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.