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Brand Attributes | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

Brand Attributes

Today is my last day in the D3 team at NAIT as I head out to NYC on Tuesday. One of the smaller things that I noticed during my time at NAIT was how people interacted on one particular stairwell. The west side of the college is connected to the newer HP Centre with a long walking platform. To get to this platform you have to walk up a single person staircase. What’s funny is that this is one of the highest traffic areas in the college. When the staircase was originally built, it was never intended for the connection with a newer building and hence the small width. What surprised me the most was how people were willing to share this staircase. One group of people will go up while a group will be waiting to go down. You would never think that this system would really work, but it does. I think it speaks to the culture at NAIT. People go to NAIT so they can get a better job, but while they’re there people are also in a support mode. It’s one of those brand things that NAIT will hopefully remember as the do their “reBrand”.

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  • Litherland

    Great observation, Michael. It’s the fascinating concept of shared space. In Drachten, the Netherlands, researchers tried an experiment: remove all prescriptive traffic indices (lights, stop signs, etc.) and see what happens. And what happened was…people stopped looking at prescriptive signs and started looking at each other for cues. Which resulted in far fewer accidents and far less severe accidents when accidents did occur.

    For me, this is along the same lines as Holly White’s observations about New York pedestrians. In a high-density situation, New Yorkers are extremely skilled at taking subtle cues from other people and making tiny adjustments at the last possible moment. One would think that pedestrian traffic would fail, would break down in New York, and yet it works like a machine. Honestly I think the impatience that some New Yorkers feel toward tourists stems from the tourists’ lack of practice with this fine dance that is walking along a New York City sidewalk. Because they lack practice, most tourists don’t read the cues well, and cause jams.


  • http://www.madeinedmonton.org Chetley


    NAIT asked my office to come up with a proposal to replace that stairway. It was submitted about a year ago. I kind of like the single person stairway but then again I don’t have to deal with waiting around.

  • tad

    I am not sure if this space is currently still viewed, but the NAIT stair is currently under construction. Sometime in October 2007 (next month) it will be ready for everyone to use. I hope I can post photos when it is done.

    Let’s just say the stair case truly will be unique in the city and challeneged RJC engineers in the structural design of the stair. There will be no stringer and the lower run of stairs is curved with the upper run, crossing over the lowered curved portion.

    Truly, it will be centre piece in interaction.