Inaugurated this past weekend, Fulton Center is a new transit hub of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) located in lower Manhattan that connects eleven subway lines as well as connections to the PATH train system. The hub is housed in a new building that features an oculus conceived by James Carpenter Design Associates. Your best bet to appreciate it instead of me trying to explain it is to Google-image-it by its nickname, “Sky Reflector-Net”. The new logo for Fulton Center has been designed by New York-based Pentagram partner Michael Bierut.
The underlying form of the Fulton Center logo is inspired by the architecture of the building: the interaction of a square and a circle. Eleven converging, crossing, and swirling lines represent the connections made at the station. (Specifically, the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, E, J, N, R and Z trains.) The lines evoke the movement and activity of the transit hub, and are reflective of the view of the oculus and Sky Reflector-Net. The circular form of the logo also echoes the circles of the subway line emblems and the MTA identity.
Leaving no decision unexplained — 11 concentric lines for the 11 subway trains that stop there and 5-degree tilt for the 5 lines that these 11 trains operate in — this logo is as beautiful and eye-catching as the new building. Relatively speaking, of course: the building is a multi-million-dollar project consisting of a 79-foot-high net imbued with 952 reflective diamond-shape panels while the logo is a probably a modest-multi-thousand-dollar logo with, at most, 50 bezier points. But you get the point.
The logo looks great at big and small sizes and I feel like this is one of the rare occasions where the gradient makes the logo better, although it works just as nice in single color. Set in Christian Schwartz’s Neue Haas Grotesk, the typography could use some breathing room instead of the negative tracking they used. That “u” and “l” look like train passengers during rush hour.
The above image is one of my favorite photos/things all year. I just love how well the logo has been interpreted as a physical object with the bent lines and the subtle shift in height.
Not much to see in application and despite a nice-looking set of identity guidelines this logo will be at the mercy of the MTA and the weird and unexpected applications it will face. Case in point: the transit card shown above, where the logo is just… placed there. Maybe because Fulton Center also has retail the logo will be treated with good care and attention. Nonetheless, this is a pretty logo that should help make the previously dire journey of connecting subway trains in lower Manhattan a more pleasant experience.