BEA: The Three Levels of Confusion


I’m not the best with following directions. I blame this on my rural upbringing where road names where largely ignored. For us, it was “Go ’til you see a red barn on the left, drive until you cross the crick, and hang a right. If you see the old Abney place with the water tank, then you gone too far.” I learn to navigate by landmark, not names, and even after I’ve lived somewhere for years, I’m liable to give you directions based on the color of a house’s curtains instead a street number.

All of which is to say I was easy prey for the sadistic DC Convention Center architects.

Spread across three five concourses, two buildings, an elevated walkways, and three levels, the DC Convention Center was a labryinth that would still be bedeviling me if I hadn’t left a trail of galleys behind in order to find my way out.

Publishers Weekly summarized that “While the three-year-old center earned praise for wide aisles and other amenities, some industry members didn’t like the fact that the children’s exhibits were on one level while the main exhibitors were on the lower floor.” Galleycat said “I’ve already heard some rumblings about how the exhibit hall requires ‘walking miles and miles’ to get from one booth to the next.” A later PW recap of the convention stated, “The most often heard complaint was about the layout of the new Washington Convention Center, which had publishers and booksellers alike confused.”

The Convention Center is nice, clean, and airy. And some folks did enjoy the layout. I just never seemed to be able to find the exit, and ultimately, that’s reflective of my own navigational shortcomings. An enjoyable enough quandary in strip clubs and casinos, but a bit of a problem when you’re dashing from one concourse to another to catch a signing.

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