User Interfaces for Physical Spaces

Information architecture that bridges the physical and the virtual

Where: The offices of MAYA Design, with field trips to the Carnegie Library Branches, Pittsburgh, PA
When: Monday, December 12

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Read MAYA's Case Study

Maya has just posted an in-depth case study of their Carnegie Library work.

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Registration and Pricing
Location, Travel, and Lodging
Questions and Comments


Complex information environments aren't always online. Libraries are the original information-rich public domains. So when one of the world's first public libraries called in building architects to renovate their historic facilities, they also called in information architects from MAYA Design to renovate their information space.

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By working with the Carnegie Library to understand how digital, physical, and human aspects of the library converge, MAYA developed an information architecture that gives the library a framework not only for a single renovated space, but also for system-wide organizational change and ongoing evolution.

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The solutions developed reduce environmental complexity and put people (rather than the system) at the center of a 360-degree, seamless experience with information.

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This workshop offers information architects and designers a valuable model to consider when faced with the increasingly porous boundaries between digital and physical domains.

Aradhana Goel presented this work at Adaptive Path's 2005 User Experience Week. She has provided her slides for download -- there's no better way to get a sense of what you'll have in store in this workshop.
Slides in PowerPoint (25MB)
Slides in PDF (12MB)
Slides and Notes in PDF (7MB - smaller imagery)


9:00a - 10:00a: Challenge: Not Dead Yet

Are libraries still relevant? Are Google, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble really the competition?

10:00a - 12:30p: Research/Analysis: Power in Complexity

Learn how MAYA approached this problem with library staff, administrators, customers, as well as a graphic design company and multiple architectural firms. Workshop participants will learn how the resulting information architecture developed and formed the basis for all subsequent design work. You can can also engage in a bit of contextual inquiry as we visit one of the libraries not yet renovated.

1:30p - 3:30p: Synthesis/Design

It's one thing to be visionary, but clients need something real. Find out how the information architecture gets translated into a system-wide plan, novel ways of overcoming barriers to success, and what became user interfaces to physical spaces.

4:00p - 6:00p: Implementation: Tour of renovated libraries

Workshop participants will visit the historic Main Library in Pittsburgh, renovated by Edge Studios, as well as the Squirrel Hill branch library, renovated by Arthur Lubetz Architects. Despite the vastly different scales and difference schemes for the physical space, the information architecture offers a consistent, user-centered experience based on a common framework.

6:00p -: Cocktails


Registration and Pricing

There is a limit of 50 registrants.

$200 for IA Institute Members
$250 for non-members
(Interested in joining? Membership costs up to $40/yr. Do that, and then come back here to register.)

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Location, Travel, and Lodging


The event begins and ends at MAYA's offices.
MAYA Design, Inc.
Southside Works
Building 2, Suite 300
2730 Sidney Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Google Map

We will be walking to a nearby library at mid-day, and taking buses to other libraries later in the day.


We placed the conference on a Monday so that people could travel Sunday and miss as little work as possible. (We also priced it as cheaply as we did so that you won't have to get your company to pay for it.)

The closest airport is the Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT).

Taxis are around $40 to this region. There are buses and shuttles as well; call your hotel to find out which are best for you.


There are a number of hotels within a mile or so of MAYA's offices. Attendees are responsible for getting themselves to MAYA's offices.

The Morning Glory Inn Bed and Breakfast
Location: South Side
Distance: Three city blocks, easy walking distance
Amenities: Includes full breakfast

The Sheraton at Station Square
Location: South Side
Distance: 10-minute drive, taxi service available
Amenities: Located in a shopping/entertainment/restaurant complex

Marriott Pittsburgh City Center
Location: Downtown
Distance: 10-minute drive, free shuttle service
Amenities: high speed internet access

Holiday Inn Express
Location: South Side
20 South Tenth Street
Toll-Free: 800HOLIDAY
Wireless, high speed internet access, reduced room rate for visitors of MAYA (approx. $95/night)
Distance: 5-minute drive, complimentary shuttle

Hampton Inn University Center
Location: Oakland
Wireless, high speed internet access
Distance: 10-minute drive, free shuttle service
Amenities: Shuttle service, Continental breakfast

Pittsburgh? In December?

Yes, we know Pittsburgh averages 32 degrees Fahrenheit in December. And is often cloudy. We plan on having fun with this, with things like hot chocolate to stave off the cold.

Questions, comments, suggestions?

For workshop details: Contact Peter Merholz (peterme AT peterme DOT com) or Noreen Whysel (operations AT iainstitute DOT org)

For library project details: Contact Aradhana Goel (goel AT maya DOT com)

October 2006
December 2005

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