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Subway Debate: Home

New York Subway Debate at The Cooper Union Great Hall

The Library's own Mary Mann and Chialin Chou will take part in 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.

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

Hosted by the Herb Lubalin Study Center, the event will take place on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at 6:30 PM (EST). Register to attend here:


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