September 10, 2012

Will Amsterdam Central Station be ‘kerned’ correctly?

Filed under: Architecture by Branko Collin @ 9:18 pm

Amsterdam Central Station is getting a new bus terminus, and architects Benthem Crouwel have decided to adorn the terminus’ roof with the word ‘Amsterdam’ in giant red glass letters.

Famous Dutch graphic designer Piet Schreuders is worried that the letters may not be spaced correctly (kerned, as typographers call it), and watches the roofing process like a hawk, sharing his observations at

Today, in September 2012, the middle section of the roof is still missing, so all we can see is AM…RDAM. (The letters STE won’t be inserted until 2013, when construction of the underground North-South tram line at this location is expected to be finished.)

Being worrisome by nature, we typographers can’t help expressing some concerns: did the architects and roofers calculate everything exactly right? Will the missing letters fit into the remaining space? And did the roofers adhere to proper kerning specifications?

Fact: the word AMSTERDAM starts and ends with the letter combination AM. The first worrisome fact: the space between the first A and M is five windows … but between the second A and M—oh, horror—it is only four.

Earlier this month the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam presented its new logo which had too much space in it, right at a position that suggested a case of ‘English disease’, as the Dutch call it—the habit of putting spaces in compound words. That space caused a lot of buzz on the Internet—I doubt Benthem Crouwel’s typography will yield a similarly rich word of mouth.

(Illustration: Benthem Crouwel Archtitects)

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