Paula Scher’s identity for Friends of the High Line, designed in 2001.
Eventually it became the symbol of the park itself.
In the year 2000, my partner James Biber and I responded to a branding call from a retail company named Watch World. We were visited by the president of the company and his marketing director, a man named Robert Hammond. We made a Pentagram capabilities presentation which seemed to go well, and they asked to write a proposal for the project. After the meeting, Robert Hammond said he’d like to talk to me about something else.
Robert Hammond was involved in trying to stop New York City from tearing down an old industrial railway called “The High Line.” He had formed a group called “Friends of the High Line” and they wanted a logo, letterhead and some business cards, so they would look official. Their idea was to turn the High Line into a park.
As far as I could tell, Hammond had no urban planning experience and wasn’t involved with the Parks Department. He was working with a friend, Joshua David, who was a magazine writer and had no urban planning or park experience either.
I actually had no idea where the High Line was. Hammond seemed like a reasonable enough person, but I didn’t believe he had any chance moving an entire city to accomplish this dream. On the other hand, I did want the Watch World job. I thought, “High Line,” “H,” “train tracks,” “green.” How long could it take?
It took about an hour, and 11 years. What follows is the work we have done for Friends of the High Line and the High Line Itself, in chronological order. Section 2 of the High Line is opening this week and the park is the most visited tourist destination in New York City. Congratulations, Robert and Josh.
Continue reading “Paula Scher on the High Line”
For New Yorkers, and visitors to the city, the green leaf of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is a welcome symbol of relaxation and enjoyment. The Parks Department manages and maintains one of the world’s largest urban park systems, 29,000 acres of land that include more than 5,000 individual properties—from iconic New York landmarks like Central Park, Coney Island Beach, Prospect Park and Flushing Meadows Corona Park, to neighborhood playgrounds, pools, community gardens, historic houses, monuments, athletic fields and stadiums—that serve millions of New Yorkers. In peak season, the Parks Department has 10,000 employees across the five boroughs.
Pentagram’s Paula Scher has collaborated with the Parks Department on the design of a new identity that creates a unified, accessible and modern image for the agency. The program includes the design of a cohesive program of signage, wayfinding and environmental graphics for the more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities in the Parks system. The project allows Scher to make a lasting contribution to the city that has inspired so much of her work.
Continue reading “New Work: NYC Parks”
Paula Scher’s murals for Queens Metropolitan Campus depict the borough of Queens, from Long Island City to New Hyde Park, in a pair of colorful wall-to-wall paintings for the local community of a New York City public school. This month the project’s reach extends all the way across the pond, where the murals have been selected for the Creative Review Annual, honoring the world’s best in advertising and design. The awards are featured in the UK magazine’s May issue, on newsstands now.
The murals have also been honored by the Type Directors Club, previously announced.
The distance from New York to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates is not so great in a new mural created by Pentagram’s Paula Scher for New York University Abu Dhabi. The map is featured on the cover of the spring issue of The New York Times’ “Education Life” section, out this week, and accompanies a story about NYUAD, the first comprehensive liberal arts and sciences campus to be operated abroad by a major U.S. research university. The school opened last fall.
Pentagram’s Michael Bierut designed the graphic identity for NYUAD and environmental graphics for the school’s temporary facility in downtown Abu Dhabi. (Bierut and his team are currently designing the graphics for NYUAD’s permanent campus on Saadiyat Island, designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects and scheduled to open in 2014.) To enliven the main entrance of NYUAD’s temporary building, Bierut suggested a mural by Scher showing the meeting of New York and Abu Dhabi. Scher created a 3′ x 3′ painting that was enlarged to 20′ x 20′ for a wall in the Welcome Center.
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As holiday shoppers exit stores across the nation, heading out into vast lots and garages, the most important thing on their minds is not what baubles they’ve bought their loved ones but rather, “Where the @#$%&! did we park the car?” Pentagram’s Paula Scher has designed graphics for a Midtown Manhattan garage that make sure drivers never forget where the car is.
Continue reading “New Work: Parking at 13-17 East 54th St.”
With over 1 million immigrant residents, Queens, New York is the most diverse county in the United States and possibly the most diverse place on Earth. For her second painting at the Queens Metropolitan Campus, a new public high school in Forest Hills, Paula Scher has created a mural of the area in 20 languages—from Spanish, Polish and Russian to Korean, Hebrew and Hindi—that are spoken by Queens residents.
The mural is the second of a pair that fill two solariums at the campus, which includes Queens Metropolitan High School and the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School. Both murals were commissioned by the NYC Department of Education and the NYC School Construction Authority Public Art for Public Schools program, in collaboration with the Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program. Like the first mural, the new installation combines Scher’s twin loves of map painting and environmental design to create a vibrant, sprawling landscape of names, languages and typography.
Continue reading “Second Mural Installed at Queens Metropolitan Campus”
This week Pentagram’s newest partner, Eddie Opara, officially joined our New York office. Eddie is a multi-faceted designer whose work encompasses brand identity, publications, environments, interactive installations, websites, user interfaces and software, with many of his projects ranging across multiple media. He has developed numerous applications including the MiG, an innovative content and asset management system for off and online applications that is currently in use by various clientele.
Eddie brings with him the team from Map, the studio he founded in 2005: Brankica Harvey, senior designer; Raed Atoui, software developer; and Frank LaRocca, designer.
Eddie’s wide-ranging practice complements Pentagram’s multi-disciplinary approach. “Bringing a diversity of design skills laced with innovation to Pentagram is paramount,” says Eddie. “I strive to conceive and build compelling work through my love of strategy, design and technology.”
Paula Scher says: “Eddie represents the new generation of graphic designers for whom all forms of media and all dimensions of design are not separated from the initial concept but are an integral part of the total thought.”
On the occasion of his joining, Eddie and his team have developed a new Pentagram app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad that showcases his portfolio. Download it here. Look for future updates of the app featuring more work from our studio.
Continue reading “Eddie Opara Joins Pentagram’s New York Office”
Over the past decade, Paula Scher has explored using superscale typography in environmental graphics for interiors and urban environments—corporate headquarters, museums, performing arts centers and schools—most recently in her graphics for the Achievement First Endeavor Middle School. At the same time, Scher has created a series of large-scale typographic map paintings and prints that examine ideas of location and ways of seeing the world. Now Scher has merged her environmental graphics and painting to create a remarkable new work: a pair of murals at the new Queens Metropolitan Campus in Forest Hills, which includes Queens Metropolitan High School and the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, a middle school. The murals were completed as a commission for the Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program, in partnership with the NYC School Construction Authority Public Art for Public Schools program.
The two murals are located in an atrium and commons at the Metropolitan Campus and each cover approximately 2,430 square feet. One of the murals, a view of the New York metropolitan region with a focus on Queens, was completed this week; a second, of Metropolitan Avenue, will be installed in October. In the murals, New York City sprawls across the walls in vibrant color, wrapping around walls, corners and ceiling, creating a world in a room. As in her map paintings, locations in the murals are misspelled or misidentified; Scher seems to be figuring out the geography along with the students, creating a joyous sense of recognition that mirrors the learning process.
“Everyone is looking up with a general sense of awe and wonder,” says Marci Levy-Maguire, principal of Queens Metropolitan High School, one of the schools on campus. “People feel special in the building, and the mural is a reflection of that. There is a focus on personalization. Everyone looks up at the mural and finds something personal to them.”
“These works marry my love of painting maps with my love of environmental design,” says Scher. “When the viewer enters the atrium, they have entered the painting. They are enveloped by it. Space is altered by it. For that moment in time, all perspectives are skewed. The viewer gets to inhabit Queens in a manner at once, totally familiar and bizarre. The viewer can recognize places and roads and even locate themselves within the map. They are ‘there,’ and then, again, they are not.”
Continue reading “New Work: Queens Metropolitan Campus”
Pentagram favorites the New York Jets are set for another winning season this year. Last season, the Jets’ 50th, the team made the playoffs, advancing to the AFC Championship Game. Led by visionary owner Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson IV, the team has a new coach, Rex Ryan, a new stadium, and a roster of star players like QB Mark Sanchez, Nick Mangold and Santonio Holmes. Now Gang Green gets its close-up in the new season of HBO’s Hard Knocks, the sports reality series that follows a single NFL team through its pre-season training camp. The show premieres this Wednesday, August 11.
One of the Jets’ newest winning members is its training center, which serves as the remarkable setting of Hard Knocks. The building was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Roger Duffy, and everything about the training center is focused on improving the performance of the players and team.
This extends to the building’s bold and aggressive graphics designed by Michael Gericke and his team at Pentagram. Using the identity we previously developed for the Jets, the graphics have been integrated into the architecture to create a holistic environment that fosters a sense of pride, focus and competition for the team and carries the spirit of the Jets onto the training field.
Officially called the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, the camp is the most modern training facility in the NFL and doubles as the corporate headquarters for the team. The 217,000-square foot, 27-acre complex in Florham Park, New Jersey, houses the practice facilities and business operations of the Jets, its players, coaches, corporate officers and medical team, and is also used for visits with sponsors, press and fans. The Jets previously trained at Hofstra University and had its corporate offices in Manhattan; the new center gives the team its own home and unites players and corporate staff under one roof, working together to win.
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Tony Bennett is known for his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” but his favorite place is actually Astoria, Queens, where he was born 84 years ago this week. (Happy Birthday, Tony!) As a gift to his old neighborhood, Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto, a former public school teacher, established in 2001 the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a New York City public high school with programs in vocal and instrumental music, drama, dance, film and fine arts. (In addition to possessing legendary voice, Bennett is an accomplished painter.) The school is named in homage to Bennett’s friend, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra.
Originally located in a shared space in Long Island City, the school opened its own new five-story building in Astoria last fall. The school is adjacent to the Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Museum of the Moving Image at the intersection of 35th Avenue and 36th Street and has helped transform the neighborhood into a bustling arts district in the heart of Astoria. Designed by Susan Rodriguez of Ennead Architects, and funded by the New York City School Construction Authority, the state-of-the-art building includes a concert hall, black box theaters, dance studios, recording studio, media center and a rooftop courtyard for outdoor performances.
Continue reading “New Work: Frank Sinatra School of the Arts”