24 Hour Inclusive Design Challenge 2010, Boston, USA , organised by the Institute for Human-Centered Design (IHCD) 17-18 November 2010
Team Park Street
Team leader: Josh Burgel (Crosby/Schlessinger/Smallridge)
Design partner: Kristen McCosh (City of Boston,Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities)
In Boston, everybody knows the best way to navigate is to ask a local... unless you're not from the city. There is an inherent threshold that is crossed when someone becomes a local and it is seen most vividly in navigating Boston's streets. The team wanted to help all people become more comfortable in their city.
Kristen, the team's design partner, has navigated Boston's sidewalks in a wheelchair for 27 years. Her experience showed as she motored between Park Street and Faneuil Hall when she chose the smoothest route to travel. Only when faced with aberrations - construction, poor pavement and murky puddles - did the team observe that Boston's sidewalks aren't perfect.
The team proposed replacing the tactile warning strip in pedestrian ramps with one that can be used for wayfinding. Their intervention is a frame with interchangeable, graphically coded, detectable panels. Pedestrians would be oriented at a glance to the street they are on as well as adjacent services, attractions, and retail destinations. The frame, set in concrete, would contain both a drainage component and a low energy lighting element that would help to melt snow and minimise icing. Finally, at major decision points, similar colour-coded mapping would be set into the sidewalk.
This interchangeable kit of parts is customisable to any city, time or event. Along with the permanent pedestrian ramp, a portable suitcase version could be used to detour users away from construction sites. A phone app and 2D Bar Code, embedded into each panel, would allow users to access additional information.
This new threshold will enhance the ease of travel for people in Boston. The easily understood graphics, engineering advances and added visibility measures will be universally beneficial. The team's solution will have out-of-towners and locals smoothly navigating the city streets in no time.