Washington, D.C.


One of the most fun road puzzles the firm has ever tackled.

The “Chutes and Ladders” Map
As part of its extensive state-wide work in Maryland, the firm has mapped the entire Baltimore-Washington region using its de-complexifying tool. Central/NW/NE D.C. turned out to be one of our biggest challenges, with its orthogonal grid of numbered and lettered streets, made messy by the overlying grid of diagonal streets mostly named for states. How could this be untangled? We realized that driving around D.C. can be thought of as a game of chutes and ladders. The diagonals are typically the best way to drive from neighborhood to neighborhood, with the orthogonal grid most useful for very local travel. Things would be fine if this were the only issue.   But there are “secret” underpasses galore, especially approaching major circles, and left turn restrictions almost everywhere you (want to) turn. And then there is the granddaddy of complexity: Dupont Circle. Yes, we managed to unlock its secrets, too. Finally, the Parkway and expressway ramps can be pretty crazy — for instance, it almost seems as though every senator got his or her own ramp in the interchange just south of the Capitol — all of which we also untangle.
Client:  Informing Design
ime Frame:  2001 to present