With the release of StreetSmart® Beijing just in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics, New York's award-winning mapmaker Stephan Van Dam has achieved both a personal best and a great leap forward in information design of the Chinese capital.
This pocket-sized, gloss-laminated, accordion-fold map - 4" x 9" closed (9" x 32" open) -is a graphic work of art that works. It shows 576 square inches of immensely legible cartographic information and diagrammatic 3-D illustrations and is such an advance over what has previously been available that it will be indispensable not only to visitors and participants at this year's Olympics, but to business and recreational travelers in Beijing for years to come.
Among its innovations:
· StreetSmart Beijing is completely bilingual. Street names and place names are given in both Chinese characters and pinyin romanization, as well as in English where it's useful (e.g., Beisanhuan Zhonglu = North 3rd Ring Road). If a traveler needs to instruct a taxi driver, or ask for directions on the street, Beijing natives will not be confused by mispronunciations - the proper Chinese name will be on the map. Just point to be understood!
· StreetSmart Beijing is the most up-to-date map on the market and includes a complete schematic for all eleven subway and light-rail lines scheduled to be in operation by June and beyond. Most other maps show only three or four lines.
· The Olympic Green Park with its dragon-shaped lagoon, the Olympic Village athletes' housing, fields and buildings for various sports, the whimsical "Bird's Nest" National Stadium, and much more in this newest part of the ancient city are shown in great detail, and in clear relation to the rest of Beijing.
· Locations of all 33 Olympic competitions are highlighted with stylized symbols, keyed for easy recognition.
· Notable buildings and architecture, including many of the towers of the Central Business District, are rendered in 3-D perspective, and every palace, courtyard, garden and gate in the Forbidden City is clearly delineated.
· Through a series of five progressively tighter views of metropolitan Beijing and the districts most heavily frequented by visitors, users of StreetSmart Beijing can see instantly how any particular location relates to the whole.
StreetSmart Beijing maps cost $8.95 each and are available at www.vandam.com or by calling 1-800 UNFOLDS. Custom pricing upon request.
EXPOSING THE CITY PLAN
"A successful map is not a photographic image of a city," says Van Dam, whose work includes award-winning maps of more than 80 world cities, "but a graphic abstraction to make the city's plan visible and comprehensible." In visualizing Beijing, Van Dam was mindful of the late urbanologist Edmund L. Bacon's observation that "(Peking) is possibly the greatest single work of man on the face of the earth. (Its) plan ...the only one of any city that can be enlarged from scale to scale...and can hold together as a total design."
Although Beijing has expanded in all dimensions since Bacon made that statement in 1933, undergoing radical changes with the removal of the city walls in the 1950s and more recent urban renewal, Van Dam's travels in the city - walking, bicycling, driving, and riding the subway - showed him its essential truth, which he has translated into this map: metro Beijing is the Forbidden City writ large, nested boxes within boxes.
"The brilliant design Bacon discerned," Van Dam says, "still reigns at its base" At the intersection of a north-south axis (the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, the Front Gate Qianmen) and an east-west axis (Chang'an Avenue and its extensions west toward Xidan and east to the diplomatic quarter and Chaoyang) sits the Forbidden City, the center of the universe. Ringed by the temples of Heaven, the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth, it defines the four meridian quadrants of the city. The design of Olympic Green Park honors this ancient plan by extending the north-south axis and adding the dragon and the phoenix symbols of imperial power and wisdom.
A GREAT LEAP FORWARD
Street maps of Beijing - when they were available at all - have historically been of limited utility since so many places were considered sensitive if not state secrets. The locals knew all these places, of course, but foreigners trying to find their way with a map were often left bewildered.
StreetSmart Beijing changes all that. Van Dam's editorial and production teams, working with born-and-bred Beijingers and the editors of Tru Run Media's That's BJ Magazine (VanDam's Beijing distribution partner), have created a stunningly handsome, meticulously vetted product that can truly be said to be the first great map of modern Beijing.
It is being published simultaneously with a new edition of VanDam's best-selling StreetSmart Hong Kong. An all-new, bilingual StreetSmart Shanghai comes out in August. All three Chinese city maps retail for $8.95 each.
Van Dam pioneered bilingual labeling last year in Tokyo Metro Unfolds and Tokyo Art & Design Unfolds, using his patented self-folding pop-up format in maps commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art.
Here is what they say about VanDam maps
Described as "magical" and "ingenious" by Travel & Leisure Magazine and "fabulous"
by CNN, "...A Map that's more than a Map..." by The New York Times VanDam Inc.'s series of maps and atlases covering more than 80 world cities have been popular with travelers since the inception of the Unfolds line in 1984 and the StreetSmart line in 1995.
Stephan Van Dam, AIGA is an award-wining graphic designer, cartographer and information architect. He holds several patents in the field of paper engineering and origami map folding. Van Dam's maps and packaging designs have been honored by the AIGA, the Industrial Design Society of America, the editors of ID Magazine and been featured on national TV.
For a complete history of VanDam please go to: www.vandam.com/resume
For more information and a sample of the SS Beijing map or to request an interview please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-929-0416 ext.11.