Greyhound Station Study

Problem Statement

Our task was to investigate a particular space, noting how the design of the environment shaped human behavior, and to devise a method for highlighting the patterns occurring in that space. I worked to understand the mental models that travelers were adhering too and the mental model of whoever designed the station.

Questions I addressed:

  • How can a designer effectively understand a space through observation?

  • How does the environment shape human behavior and how does a designer become sensitive to seeing that?

  • What hierarchy should be utilized in a visual to convey a message?


System Model

How the designer likely intended for people to move through the station.

Interaction Model

How users actually move through and understand the station.

Zeisel: Inquiry by design

I applied John Zeisel's Inquiry by Design techniques for noticing physical traces of human activity left in the environment, particularly "erosion" and "public messages".

What I learned about the station:

  • The restroom is the most popular destination; this should be made more accessible
  • The elongated layout renders many utilities (outlets, vending machines, etc.) useless
  • Given the dominant beaten path, the benches could be rearranged to encourage socializing 

Flow Graphic Process

After animating the dots, I realized that I would need to rethink the hierarchy of the visual as the focus of the design was the accumulated path and dots, not the icons.

What I learned:

  • How to effectively understand a space through observation

  • Methods for seeing seemingly invisible patterns of use in a space

  • Ways to apply hierarchy to visuals in order to reduce noise


The notes I made within the greyhound station to track where people were going.