Two improvements in the Cove Club laundry room
A better informational sign
The condo in New York has a laundry room to service all the residents. It can sometimes get a bit busy, even thought there are quite a few machines. Some rude people leave their clothes in the machine long after the cycle has completed. Maybe they got caught up in another task, maybe they just forgot they were doing laundry, or maybe they're just inconsiderate. Who knows. But it can be frustrating.
Once, upon entering the laundry room, I noticed a sign - great. Maybe it will encourage people to not leave their clothes in the machine. Nope. It said not to remove clothes from a machine. Poo.
The sign is a piece of graphic design - intended to communicate a specific message to a specific group of people to achieve a specific purpose. Therefore, like any piece of graphic design, it can be made better. Here's how:
• The concept of the message - people apparently were touching other's clothes when they had been left in the machine too long. This is a busy laundry room. Even though there are 10 washing machines and 8 dryers, there are times when people are waiting. It is just rude and inconsiderate to not promptly remove clothes. This sign, however doesn't address that, it says the opposite - leave those clothes alone.
• The tone of the message is too harsh and demanding. There is no explanation or respect shown to the reader.
• The signs are posted above each machine and the text is red. There is no need for the word 'Attention'. In all caps.
• The building has tight security - visitors have to check in with the concierge in the front lobby. There is no need for the sign to state, 'Residents of Cove Club Condo' (again, in all caps). Who else would be doing laundry but a resident or a resident's employee?
• 'from machines that do not belong to you' - I didn't realize these machines belonged to me. Heck, I'll just move one of my washers and one of my dryers up to my apartment and avoid this whole sign issue.
• Cheesy and unnecessary clip art.
• Poor line breaks. 'articles of clothing' is a phrase that should not be disrupted.
Graphic design should respect the intelligence and dignity of the user/reader/viewer - the audience. I rewrote and redesigned the sign to better communicate both messages and to do so in a more considerate manner. As a sign-off to increase credibility and familiarity, I included a logo for the Cove Club condominium that I designed for an earlier project. Here is the proposed suggestion that I sent to the building manager:
The building manager liked the new sign but asked for a version with a Spanish translation. Huh? In Spanish? Then I realized there were nannies and apartment caretakers from many countries. I took the sign copy to a Spanish teacher at OSU in Stillwater and had him translate the sign. I explored different layouts - English & Spanish stacked and side-by-side. I also changed the font to a bold sans serif to be more demonstrative and clear.
The one on the right was submitted. The new signs were posted in the laundry room in early March, 2010.
To my surprise and delight - the signs were larger than what I submitted, 20" x 16", and mounted on a stiff backing.
A better arrangement of tables
For over a year, I tolerated the arrangement of the folding table in the condo laundry room that formed a barrier between the washers (out of view in the foreground of the pictures above) and the dryers. I, like everyone else, just stepped around the awkward placement of the table.
In August, 2005, I moved the table to open up access to the dryers. Sometimes, when I rearrange furniture in someone else's place (like in the elevator lobby of this same building), it is put back when I see the room the next time. But this time, when I went back to do laundry a week later, not only was the table still where I moved it, but there was a man in a wheelchair who commented how much easier it was for him to now get to the dryers.
Of course, the table was moved back. Somebody, maybe one of the porters, didn't realize that it was a more efficient and convenient arrangement and just put it back the way he was conditioned to seeing it.
But, after the management accepted the new signs (above) I tried again and presented the suggestion to the condo board. They agreed and the tables were rearranged as recommended above. They have remained in the new configuration ever since.
"Welcome home" One's home is one's respite from the chaos of the city, from the busyness of work, and from a day of shopping, theater, and museums in the city. The common areas of Cove Club should encourage residents and visitors to slow down a bit, acknowledge they are home, and allow them to enjoy the aesthetics and environment of living in a quality luxury residential building.
The renovations should provide a transition from city to home that:
• Conveys value, quality, luxury, pride of ownership
• Creates a sense of visual and physical comfort
• Is contemporary, uncluttered, minimal, abstract
• Provides ease of maintenance and upkeep
• Exploits the unique attribute of public art in BPC
• Positions Cove Club as exclusive, unique from other residence buildings in BPC
• Considers traffic flow in the placement of furniture and pedestals
• Enhances security and safety
• Increases value of ownership: attractive & appealing to prospective buyers/renters
• Symmetry of interior rooms contrasting with the asymmetry of exterior layout and plan
• Upscale, upgrade, more sophisticated, more contemporary
• More calming and soothing - to offset the chaos of the busy wall indentions and molding frames
• More unified and consistent - less chaotic and hectic
• Lighter and more visually 'open' - less heavy, dark, and somber
• Straight geometric lines and forms to reflect and respect the architecture of the building and angles to reflect the unique angles formed by the balcony extensions and townhome bay windows
• Marine gallery: model ships, maps, and photographs. Inspired by the name Cove Club, the proximity to the South Cove and the Hudson River, the model ship currently in the hallway, and the commitment to public art in Battery Park City
• Carrots or focal points at end of galleries - like Disneyland putting an enticing treat for the eye at the end of each street
• Alignment to provide order and clarity
Upscale marine gallery: model ships, artifacts, maps, photographs. Inspired by: the name Cove Club, the proximity to the South Cove and the Hudson River, the model ship currently in the hallway, galleries in luxury homes, and the commitment to public art in Battery Park City
Common area zones
• South End entry "Welcome Home": comfortable, seating, inviting, security boundary, concierge desk, 2-story atrium
• Intersection: mail, carts, & townhomes; utilitarian, efficient
• Passages: gallery, aesthetic, minimal furnishings, planters in the skylit atrium; focal point of ship at end of main gallery (visible from front entry)
• Elevator lobby: unadorned, mirror wall, simple seating for occasional use
• Battery Place entry (I avoid 'back' or 'rear entry' since those names are condescending and for many, the BP entry is not really secondary): upgrade with color, trash can?, framed art (area map or subway map to guide those heading into the city) to reflect the ambience of the other common area passages
• Fitness room & club room foyer, to enter the club room one must pass through the uncomfortable and too-bright fitness room - maybe a transition space (could just be wall color) containing the club room entry door and the rest of the fitness room
• Fitness room: just needs a better wall color
• Club room: okay for now. Eventually, it would be nice to upgrade it with brushed steel, more sophisticated palette of colors and materials, and matching furniture
Set of 3 planters at the Battery Place entry, in the atrium gallery passage, and at the South End entry.
The planters at the BP entry help create a 'sense of entry' or 'sense of place' and announce that this is more than just a nondescript door in a block-long corridor of glass wall. The atrium gallery shouldn't need more seating and the atrium skylight is almost begging for plants and greenery. The plants could look good in front of the banana leaf artwork. The SE entry planters will enhance the blank wall on the north and respect the asymmetry of the entrance and the orientation towards the Statue and South Cove park.
There is no need for any other artwork in the passages other than the art in the atrium gallery, the model ship focal point, the large mirror and framed old map in the secondary passage.
1. Repair/replace carpet at edge of elevator lobby
2. Paint side walls at elevator doorways
3. Reaim lights to shine on ship model and plants
4. New wall sconces