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Scattered numbers on Ohio State map explained

Courtesy of OSU

The campus map has building numbers 149, 025, 001, 339 all next to each other on the Oval.
This kind of ordering of numbers is typical for the Ohio State map – large numbers next to small numbers with seemingly no logical connection. But some students are confused.
Breanna Whitslar, a fourth-year in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said she does not understand the relation with the buildings and the numbers they are assigned.
“If I knew why certain numbers were attached to certain buildings it might be easier,” she said. “But it doesn’t seem like there is any kind of order. Sometimes it can be hard to find (a building).”
Lindsay Komlanc, spokeswoman for OSU’s Administration and Planning, said the map numbering is not for navigating but for planning, campus layout and tracking of buildings locations.
The original numbering was determined in the order in which the buildings were built but it is not an exact science, Komlanc said.
“You can’t necessarily use those original numbers to determine age because we don’t know how that very first numbering of buildings happened,” she said.
The original 1960s numbering system was not very stable, with some buildings having different numbers assigned to them throughout the decades.
An example would be the facility services, which are open 24/7 and listed as “Building 0” on the map.
“You can report a problem with the facility, and they need a very quick, easy way to locate that building and dispatch maintenance crew or operations crew,” Komlanc said.
The numbers are used by several databases around the university, state and federal governments, Komlanc said in an email.
Through the years, OSU has gained more expertise in terms of planning and has adopted better standards, Komlanc said. In the past if a building was demolished, the number assigned to that building would be reused.
“Now when a building get(s) demolished, its number will never get used again,” Komlanc said.
She said hopefully the numbering system will stay consistent in the future.
Johnathan Rush is a graduate student in the geography department who teaches a class in cartography, or map making. He said students don’t use the numbers to find their classes.
“The way I think about maps is the purposes they are built for,” he said. “Often what maps are made for is to navigate.”
He said even though the numbering system is no use for the students, it is understandable the university has a certain standard for building numbering.

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