CR Blog

NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual

Graphic Design, Type / Typography

Posted by Mark Sinclair, 20 February 2013, 9:18    Permalink    Comments (0)

For lovers of American modernism, Pentagram sent forth a tweet on Valentine's day that no doubt got some pulses racing. "Found in Pentagram NY's basement, here is every last page of Unimark's 1970 NYC Transit Authority Standards Manual"...

As the studio reported, since the discovery the manual had been lovingly documented, in an appropriately clean and precise way, and launched as thestandardsmanual.com.

Designed by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda while at Unimark International in New York in 1970, the publication is a considerable 179 pages long, thanks in large part to entire pages being given over to displaying single letters and numerals set in the typeface Standard Medium – not, in fact, Helvetica, as Paul Shaw's fantastic AIGA post on the design of the New York subway reveals. Helvetica began to be used in favour of Unimark's original choice of type from the 1980s onwards.

Just a handful of pages from the manual are shown here as the new site – the result of the collective efforts of designer Niko Skourtis, Pentagram's Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth – is of course well worth browsing through. The designers have even incorporated a magnifier so that the body text of the manual can be read, too. See thestandardsmanual.com.

Thanks to Steve Collins for the note on the find.


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