In memorium

pablohoney77's picture

my sister brought this article to my attention.
What an honor, guys! Congrats!

Thomas Phinney's picture

Nice article, though it sparked me to send the following letter to the NY Times:

Dear NYT staff and readers,

In a generally oustanding article on the use of Tobias Frere-Jones' "Gotham" typeface on the new cornerstone at the former World Trade Center site, there is an unintentionally misleading statement. The article says: "The strokes have a uniform width," and goes on to talk about the geometric simplicity of the font.

Although the strokes APPEAR to have a uniform width, one of the subtleties of typeface design is that vertical strokes must be thicker than horizontals to achieve the appearance of uniform thickness to human eyes--and so they are in Gotham.

Understanding and using this and many other arcana of human perception is just one step on the way to becoming a master typeface designer. Like a professional athlete, Frere-Jones does with elegant simplicity something that is beyond the capabilities of most viewers, however straightforward it may appear.

"All you have to do is hit the ball with the stick. How hard can it be?"


Thomas W. Phinney
Program Manager
Fonts & Core Technologies
Adobe Systems

Nick Shinn's picture

Interesting that Skidmore Owens & Merrill hired a design firm for the cornerstone, and that a font was used.

(Or perhaps Pentagram is the design firm of record for the project as a whole, and not contracted specifically for the cornerstone.)

Back in the days of the lettering that Gotham recreates, I believe that Skidmore would have done the lettering drawings in-house, and contracted a mason to execute them; or perhaps they would have done a rendering (rather than a working drawing), and directed the stone-cutter to match a style from a style-book. Or did the letter-cutters show their own "comps' to the architects?

dan_reynolds's picture

Letter-cutters show clients comps now. Don't know about the 1950s

titus n.'s picture

"It's one of those typefaces that's open to interpretation," Mr. Hoefler said. "That makes it a good match for this monument."

kentlew's picture

Thomas -- nice letter to the editor!

-- K.

John Nolan's picture

I, too, was surprised that such a prominent monument would be "carved" with the sandblaster and mat method (if, indeed that's what was done.)

Don't get me wrong, Gotham is a good New York kind of face, but I think hand carved would have been much more appropriate.

Of course, maybe a stone-cutter was employed, using Gotham as a template, but it really doesn't look like it from the picture.

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