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Redesigned UCSC campus map

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#1
Aaron Cole

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Hi Everyone!  It's been WAY too long.  I've been obsessing over the redesign of our new campus map and would love to hear feedback from the community.  Long story short our campus is unique in that it is large (> 2,000 acres and more than 1,000 feet in elevation) and composed primarily of open natural landscape, mostly rolling meadows and sprawling redwood groves.  Our existing campus map is...AHEM...lacking, and I was able to round up enough funding to sprint this thing across the finish line.

 

We have 1m LiDAR, which I used to identify and symbolize the tree canopy, and 3 inch resolution aerial imagery, used in different transparencies over the trees, the meadows and the farm.  I also used 3 different hillshades, the detailed LiDAR (first and last return) over the tree canopy to emphasize the canopy texture and steep ravines, and a 10m resampled USGS DEM over the meadows, to emphasize the general landscape.  I wrote a Python script to extrude the buildings, and used a ratio of distance from the center of the map to determine the direction and distance of the offset in the x direction.  If you look closely you'll see the buildings on the left side of the map extrude left, vise versa on the right.  Also "extruded" the building shadows but forced them Southwest.  It's going off to the print press ASAP but just wanted to post it up here to see if I can get any last minute feedback or suggestions.  Thanks, look forward to hearing from you.  

 

I've got the file size down to ~7MB, can be viewed HERE.


Edited by Aaron Cole, 15 September 2017 - 01:19 PM.

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#2
tangnar

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Looks really good, I think the canopy height is really cool. Did you try the wooded area without the gray stroke? Not really an issue, but maybe it's not necessary, or it could be a shade of green? 

 

Like the fonts a lot. 



#3
Aaron Cole

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Looks really good, I think the canopy height is really cool. Did you try the wooded area without the gray stroke? Not really an issue, but maybe it's not necessary, or it could be a shade of green? 

 

Like the fonts a lot. 

I did both, in fact.  Because we're sending it to an offset press I was concerned about a thin stroke using multiple inks, so just made the outline grey as a % of black.  Admittedly I don't often design print documents for professional printing, so still on the learning curve there.  Our printer has been helpful, but I don't think we'll really know until we see the final result.  It looks ok without the line, but I see the symbolization of the canopy outline stroke as as the dividing line (pun intended) between the abstraction of the canopy and the built landscape with the realism of the imagery over the meadows and farm.  Without it I feel like the overall look and feel of the whole map starts to lean too far towards the imagery.  I agree that a green/brown color would probably look better, perhaps someone can shed some light on printing a 0.4pt stroke using 4 inks...



#4
Aaron Cole

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Looks really good, I think the canopy height is really cool. Did you try the wooded area without the gray stroke? Not really an issue, but maybe it's not necessary, or it could be a shade of green? 

 

Like the fonts a lot. 

Also about the canopy outline, it comes across much more pronounced in the pdf than in the AI file and especially in print...at least on our inkjet...though maybe just a tad darker on the grey? Thanks for making the comment, now I'm reassessing!



#5
Aaron Cole

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Ok another question: What about the trees over parking lots.  We've wanted to do this, but feel like maybe not if it's not universal? Cool effect though.  Most of our upper campus is completely under tree canopy, so we can't use this technique everywhere.  I do like how it looks in East Remote Parking though.  Thoughts?

Attached Thumbnails

  • EastRemoteTrees.JPG


#6
Michael Karpovage

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Wow! Helluva job, Aaron! Really nice work. That is a massive campus. I really like the extruded buildings for a 3D effect on a 2D map. An improvement you can make that'd be easy is giving more letter spacing on those large, bold, white labels. The wording is running together. Too much kerning. Might open them up a little bit more. That's what stood out to me immediately.

I'm curious, do you work at the college? How many maps are being printed and at what size (flat and folded finished size). I hope quite large because the text will be very difficult to read if too small.

Again, nice job. I can tell many, many man hours went into this.

Best,
Michael


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#7
Kate Leroux

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Gorgeous! The map gives such a natural-feeling sense of the terrain. The single suggestion I'd have is the same as Michael Karpovage said - the letters look too close together. Otherwise, it's very well done. I'll be bookmarking it for inspiration. Great work. You should submit it for the next Atlas of Design!



#8
Dennis McClendon

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Very nice work.  My only qualms are about some outlining that seems superfluous, such as the bike path dashes and the tree canopy—even the roadways don't really need dark edges.

 

I also wonder about a slightly different color for the open/meadow areas.  Though I know the coastal hills become golden in summer, at first glance it reads like bare dirt.


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#9
Aaron Cole

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Michael and Kate,

 

Thank you for the feedback.  I went in and opened up the character spacing on some of the larger labels.  That was an artifact from coming out of ArcGIS where we were trying to get a particular look and feel in a map document at a different scale.  Good catch!



#10
Aaron Cole

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Very nice work.  My only qualms are about some outlining that seems superfluous, such as the bike path dashes and the tree canopy—even the roadways don't really need dark edges.

 

I also wonder about a slightly different color for the open/meadow areas.  Though I know the coastal hills become golden in summer, at first glance it reads like bare dirt.

 

Totally hear you Dennis. We didn't even want to touch making the meadows green (which they are several months a year) and the lighter we made it the less we liked it.  We tried 10 different versions of the and ended up settling on this one.  I say settling because given another few days and iterations who knows!  I've never designed a map with such prominent aerial imagery and the outlines, to me, help to emphasize the abstraction of the canopy and the built landscape, in addition to helping the figure to ground.  I see your point, though.  Our University Relations department wanted the features to be more prominent, and truthfully I like it better with the outlines. The parking space lines look odd if the roads aren't outlined, like they're coming from nowhere.  I think the canopy outline is totally a matter of preference, though it does appear much stronger in pdf form than printed, I completely understand a preference to not have it there.  Thanks for your feedback, that's why I posted the map here, to go back and rethink everything, I appreciate it!



#11
Aaron Cole

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Wow! Helluva job, Aaron! Really nice work. That is a massive campus. I really like the extruded buildings for a 3D effect on a 2D map. An improvement you can make that'd be easy is giving more letter spacing on those large, bold, white labels. The wording is running together. Too much kerning. Might open them up a little bit more. That's what stood out to me immediately.

I'm curious, do you work at the college? How many maps are being printed and at what size (flat and folded finished size). I hope quite large because the text will be very difficult to read if too small.

Again, nice job. I can tell many, many man hours went into this.

Best,
Michael

 

I'm the Assistant Director at the Center for Integrated Spatial Research in the ENVS Department, been here since 2009.  Our primary responsibility is supporting research and training but we also do a considerable amount of grant work and contract work with groups like TNC, Conservation International, and the USGS.

 

We're printing 500 24" x 36" maps.


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#12
loximuthal

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That is terrific! Wish I'd had that when I was a student there, especially my first quarter.


Andy McIntire
US Census Bureau

#13
hphillips

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I don't understand the large number of unnamed buildings, especially in the areas of various colleges (say Porter College or Kresge College). Are these mostly dormitories?  Some of this 'missing'  labeling will make the map less effective as an aid to navigate the campus.  Labeling every building would be excessive and make a labeling nightmare; I am not suggesting that.  The rationale for what was labeled and what was not labeled is not clear.  Labeling a building south of the Theater Arts Mainstage as 'Offices' seems like an oddity with so many other buildings on campus left unlabeled.  The red 'A' on college administrative offices is not very legible, it might just as well be a red dot.  Maybe you could use the color of the rooftop area to differentiate building function although that would be at some risk to the uniform representation of all buildings. 
 
Is there already a campus parking map?  I noticed on Google Maps that most parking lots are numbered; maybe that would be a useful addition to your map. 
 
Thank you for sharing this map.  It is an inspiration to see one so artfully made and with so much detail.  The extruded buildings with drop shadows really pop out.  The soft green of the forested areas and tan of the meadows are visually restful colors yet the subtle shading and pattern of the meadow areas derived from imagery makes these visually interesting, much more so than a solid uniform color.  The legend is clear and neatly nestled into a map corner without obscuring features or needing a legend box.  It was the correct cartographic choice to portray the parking lots without trees!  

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#14
Aaron Cole

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I don't understand the large number of unnamed buildings, especially in the areas of various colleges (say Porter College or Kresge College). Are these mostly dormitories?  Some of this 'missing'  labeling will make the map less effective as an aid to navigate the campus.  Labeling every building would be excessive and make a labeling nightmare; I am not suggesting that.  The rationale for what was labeled and what was not labeled is not clear.  Labeling a building south of the Theater Arts Mainstage as 'Offices' seems like an oddity with so many other buildings on campus left unlabeled.  The red 'A' on college administrative offices is not very legible, it might just as well be a red dot.  Maybe you could use the color of the rooftop area to differentiate building function although that would be at some risk to the uniform representation of all buildings. 
 
Is there already a campus parking map?  I noticed on Google Maps that most parking lots are numbered; maybe that would be a useful addition to your map. 
 
Thank you for sharing this map.  It is an inspiration to see one so artfully made and with so much detail.  The extruded buildings with drop shadows really pop out.  The soft green of the forested areas and tan of the meadows are visually restful colors yet the subtle shading and pattern of the meadow areas derived from imagery makes these visually interesting, much more so than a solid uniform color.  The legend is clear and neatly nestled into a map corner without obscuring features or needing a legend box.  It was the correct cartographic choice to portray the parking lots without trees!  

 

Thanks for the feedback and good point.  We ended up removing the administration 'A' icons from the map altogether.  All the labeling came sfrom MANY different stakeholders on campus (transportation and parking staff, division staff, department staff, etc.), it was one of the things completely out of our control.  The idea behind this map was general reference, something you'd like to hang on your office wall.  I actually lobbied to take the bus stops off, but was overruled.  There are additional maps for parking and other specific purposes, for example, we designed maps at 1:1500 to be displayed at the bus stops which do have every building labeled.






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