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Dude, Where’s Your Car? Under Those Awesome Wayfinding Graphics

Nothing encapsulates the absurdities of shopping in America better than forgetting where you parked your car. Hell, Seinfeld turned it into a modern-day Kafka story.

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If only Jerry had parked at 13-17 East 54th Street, in Manhattan. With fresh new signage by Pentagram partner Paula Scher, the garage is designed explicitly so that drivers always remember where their car is.

Tall task! And (full disclosure) we haven’t actually visited the garage, so we can’t vouch for how easy it is to navigate. But based on the pictures, the place looks pretty solid.

Scher envisioned the wayfinding system “as a kind of backseat driver” in the sense that it forces you to pay attention to your surrounds. As you creep up the seven-story structure, you’re assaulted by unsolicited directions — “Slow and steady wins the race,” ?Don’t stop here, continue on,? “Keep going, pull forward” — all done up in big, bold, black-and-white type that even the most absentminded driver couldn’t ignore. Think of it as a kind of preparatory attention-grabbing for what’s to follow. (The font, Verlag, was originally designed for a museum.) Once you get to your spot, “supergraphics” on the elevators and parking levels (see above) help you identify where you are; never mind having to memorize some badly faded, five-digit parking space.

At first, Scher wanted to splay “Did you remember where we parked the car?” in the parking structure’s windows, but that didn’t gibe with New York’s zoning laws, so she created a quiet little neon sign instead (above). Not that her original idea would’ve helped people find their cars, mind. But it certainly would’ve made for an unforgettable garage.

[Images courtesy of Pentagram]

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