NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual reissue

In 2012, a rare copy of the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual was discovered in the basement of Pentagram’s New York office – and, page by page, the whole thing was documented online at thestandardsmanual.com. Now, it is to be republished as a book – which you can pledge to buy via a Kickstarter page set up to raise funding for its production

In 2012, a rare copy of the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual was discovered in the basement of Pentagram’s New York office – and, page by page, the whole thing was documented online at thestandardsmanual.com. Now, it is to be republished as a book – which you can pledge to buy via a Kickstarter page set up to raise funding for its production…

In 1967, the New York City Transit Authority originally commissioned Unimark International’s Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda to design a signage and wayfinding system that would dramatically improve the experience of travelling on the city’s Subway. Their Manual changed the way the Subway looked – and worked – and their Graphics Standards document went on to become a modern design classic.

Within 72 hours of making their Manual website live, Niko Skourtis, Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth‘s site had received a quarter of a million unique views. But, say Reed and Smyth who are both Pentagram designers, despite incorporating some great full screen photography (plus a magnifying tool to read the texts), “the Manual really belongs in print”.

So the pair decided to reissue the classic document as a full size book – and the project has proven so popular on Kickstarter that they have already broken through their $108,000 goal and currently have a pledge total of $618,000, with 22 days to go (full details are here).

While the early bird options on securing a copy of the book went quickly, at time of writing, US customers can still obtain a copy of the book (delivery date is March 2015) by pledging $118 or more; Canadian customers $133 or more; and interested parties in the EU – $158 or more.

All pledges at those amounts include shipping but orders must be placed within the funding period, which expires on October 10 – after this campaign, this reissue (officially licensed by the MTA) will not be available again.

By way of an introduction to the Manual, there’s a great short film in which Pentagram’s Michael Bierut explains the significance of the Vignelli and Noorda-design system for the New York Subway (below). The book iself will feature a written introduction by Bierut and an essay on the Manual’s development by Christopher Bonanos.

Video: Harrison Boyce, harrisonboyce.com. Music: Edo Van Breemen, edovanbreemen.com

Here’s what the original Manual looks like:

And here’s an example of one of the scans of the original pages, on ‘letter spacing’, which the project’s founders will be using to make each page of the new Manual:

A detail shows the quality of the scan:

“The original Standards Manual is held in a 5 ring binder,” say the designers. “Each page inside the binder measures 13×13″. The reissue will be Smyth (section) sewn rather than ring bound. Each page will measure 13.5″(343 mm) square, so we can include a 0.25″(6.4mm) border around each scan to ensure we can print the full 13″ scan.”

This mock-up gives an idea of how the page shown above will look in the finished book:

Some additional mock-ups of the book:

And scan details:

The reissue cover, introduction, and essay headings will be set in a custom version of Standard Medium by type designer Nick Sherman.

“Nick painstakingly recreated the font from the photographs we posted on thestandardsmanual.com and has allowed us to use it in the reissue,” say the project’s founders. “We are not altering the scans of the original Standards Manual in any way. We are only typesetting the cover, introduction, and essay in Nick’s version of the font.”

NYCTA Standard Medium by Nick Sherman

The typeface is based specifically on the glyph designs and spacing system presented in the Standards Manual

Full details of the Kickstarter project are at kickstarter.com.

Campaign management: Crowdsourceress Alex Daly and Vann Alexandra

Specifications of the reissue are as follows:

Printed in Italy.

364 pages with 176 four-color plates.

Plates printed from high-resolution scans of the original Standards Manual.

12 page introduction and essay (1 color).

13.5″ W × 13.5″ H (343 x 343 mm).

Hardcover with Cialux cloth wrap and foil stamped title on the cover and spine.

Smyth (section) sewn binding.

3 gate folds.

Printed on 100 and 140 gsm Munken Pure ivory offset paper.

White head and tail bands.

The book is huge.

It measures 13.5″ (343mm) square and weighs over 7lbs (3.2kg).

More at kickstarter.com

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