12 April 2010

Bad Design - Reagan Parking Lot

One of the items in my long list of Books To Write Some Day is a project I'm calling The Book Of Bad Design. Maybe I'll do it as a blog instead, but the general concept is to present poorly designed objects and examine what went wrong... then propose design solutions.

In anticipation of someday creating such a thing, I've been collecting examples and thought I might share a few of them here on RPL.

The photo to the left is of a parking lot at Reagan National Airport in DC. Notice the sign reading "D9" on the street light. Notice also the long line of street lights stretching off into the distance. Although you can't tell from this photo, I can confirm that every single one of those lights has a sign which reads (wait for it...) "D9." Really? Yes, really.

Running parallel to the long line of D9 parking spots are other rows, with similarly consistent labeling. This means that even if you remember you parked in row D9, your car could be anywhere along a rather lengthy row. The simple solution of course would be to give each light its own unique label, such as D1, D2, etc (for the D-row), and C1, C2, etc for the C row.

I can't imagine why the parking lot designers decided to use this labeling convention. They got so close to a usable design, then completely whiffed it. But it was better than the shuttle bus design... more on that soon.


Craig Brown said...

yeah, hat stuff is so common it's funny, and not at the same time.

Check this site that lays a similar game.

Glen B. Alleman said...


Here in Boulder - the people republic of Boulder - the parking lots are designed by people who do not drive cars!!!

Antonio said...

It's the Itchy and Scratchy Lot from The Simpsons...

David said...

Maybe they ran out of numbers or letters. I have it on good authority (my 6-year old and either of my 5-year olds) that there are only so many numbers you can use.

Watcher said...

Great idea for a book; check Victor Papaneck's 'Design for the Real World'

Nice to see parking and way-finding come up; in a previous career I was an architect who often ended up coordinating car park design (none as big as the one photographed), and yes, designing for efficient parking, movement and way-finding is not a trivial task, compounded when one has to also accommodate engineering demands (pipes, easements, soft soil, etc), structure and water movement.