Mind the gap

London Tube-style map of UC BerkeleyEighty years ago, an engineering draftsman named Harry Beck created a color-coded map of the London Underground, the city’s subway, also known as the Tube. Beck’s map, celebrated for its simplicity and ease of use, is regarded as one of the most influential transit maps ever designed.

Dan Howard spent time in London as a kid and is currently an Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) graduate student. He says he often thinks of the Tube when walking through campus, noting where important routes intersect, or where he has to transfer to another path.

Last winter, while learning to use design software, Howard came up with the idea of reimaging campus as a transit map. So, with a nod to Beck’s classic design and references to other well-known subway systems, like the Metro in Washington, D.C., Howard connected Berkeley landmarks in classic Tube-map style.

Howard is enrolled in the concurrent master of science/master of city and regional planning program at ITS, which means he takes classes at the College of Engineering and the College of Environmental Design. “I’m very interested in how policy relates to technology adoption, which is truly a blend between the two degrees,” he says.

Howard’s cartographic mind was also sharpened by other life experiences. He studied aerospace engineering at the United States Naval Academy and became a Navy helicopter pilot.

“As a helicopter pilot you never really leave the ground too far behind. You are always looking down at the urban fabric,” Howard says. “You can ask questions about the form of transportation systems that maybe you wouldn’t be able to see from your desk or from the ground.”


Topics: Design, Transportation, Students


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