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New Work: ‘Opera’

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Considered the ultimate in musical and theatrical art, opera brings together an intricate and sweeping score, elaborate costumes and scenery, and a gripping sense of drama to take audiences on an emotional journey. Essential to the experience is the stunning architecture of the world-famous opera houses where the productions are presented.

Photographer David Leventi documents over 40 of these grand spaces in Opera, a new book designed by Pentagram’s Luke Hayman and team. Completed over a period of eight years, the project took Leventi to 19 countries to photograph landmark opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera in New York (the largest), the Real Teatro di San Carlo in Naples (the oldest), the Palais Garnier in Paris, La Scala in Milan, the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil. The publication of Opera, out now from Damiani, coincides with an exhibition of the large-scale photographs currently on view at Rick Wester Fine Art in New York.

In his artist statement about the project, Leventi says: “The actual performance is just a part of the overall awe-inspiring experience of going to the theater—I believe that the space itself can be the event.”

The American Way(s)

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Pentagram’s Michael Bierut contributes the cover illustration for this weekend’s edition of The New York Times Book Review. Timed to the July 4th holiday, the issue features a review by George Packer of two new books that look at how many Americans are discontent with U.S. government and the existing political system, and what it might take to incite another revolution. Charles Murray explores the issue from the right in By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, while Chris Hedges takes a left-leaning view in Wages of Rebellion.

Bierut illustrates this bipartisan back and forth with two hand-painted drawings. The cover pictures a U.S. flag that replaces its stars and stripes with arrows that point right or left, and an interior image features a face-off between arrows in Republican red and Democrat blue. Bierut is, of course, no stranger to arrows and politics, or new takes on the U.S. flag.

New Work: KIPP NYC College Prep High School

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This week KIPP NYC College Prep High School celebrates the graduation of the second class of seniors who have studied at its new state-of-the-art building in the South Bronx. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have designed the program of signage, wayfinding and environmental graphics for the school, which is the first high school in the KIPP NYC network of 11 public charter schools and serves over 900 students in grades 9 through 12.

KIPP stands for “Knowledge Is Power Program,” and KIPP NYC students regularly outperform their peers at other New York schools and boast higher graduation and college matriculation rates. (KIPP NYC College Prep sees an extraordinary 100 percent of its students go on to apply for college.) This mission of educational empowerment extends to the graphics of the new building, which encourage students to think, learn and problem-solve as they encounter a series of codes, puzzles and riddles that have been integrated into the school environment.

Preview: The Bridge at Cornell Tech


Teaser video for The Bridge at Cornell Tech.

Construction kicked off this week on Cornell Tech, the $2 billion, 17-acre campus for technology on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team are designing the identity for The Bridge at Cornell Tech, an innovative corporate co-location building on campus that will bring together students, companies, researchers and entrepreneurs to collaborate and interact, all under one roof.

Developed by Forest City Ratner Companies and designed by Weiss/Manfredi, the Bridge is the centerpiece of Cornell Tech and is conceived as an incubator that connects—or “bridges”—the gap between academia and industry leaders. The seven-story, 200,000-square-foot building will contain loft-like spaces where students and entrepreneurs can work with stunning views of Midtown Manhattan as the backdrop. Cornell Tech is set to occupy one third of the building, with a mix of startups and larger companies in the rest. The campus also includes an academic building and residential building, and is scheduled to open in summer 2017.

To launch The Bridge, Bierut and his team created a teaser video that highlights the idea of connection. The clip pictures a series of graphic intersections, then pulls back to reveal the Bridge logotype, set in the distinctive, tech-inspired font Three Six by Muir McNeil. The visuals are accompanied by propulsive music composed by Jacob Rosati.

Additional coverage: Fast Company.

Project Team: Michael Bierut, partner-in-charge, designer and writer; Hamish Smyth, associate and designer; Todd Goldstein, designer. Music by Jacob Rosati.

New Work: ‘Philadelphia Explained’

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In her typographic map paintings, Pentagram’s Paula Scher explores ideas of location and individual ways of seeing the world. Now, working in collaboration with students at her alma mater, the Tyler School of Art, Scher has expanded this unique point of view to an immersive environment. Philadelphia Explained is a large-scale installation that details the city and its surrounding areas in a hand-painted map created by Scher and 154 participants that covers the walls and floor of Temple Contemporary, the school’s 2,100 square-foot gallery.