Last week, the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced their Design Awards for 2012. The list included many Pentagram collaborators, including architect Frederic Schwartz and landscape architect Ken Smith who won an Honor Award for their design for the Santa Fe Railyard Park. The park is the public core of a new mixed-use district redeveloped from the historic train yards near Santa Fe’s downtown. Pentagram collaborated with Smith and Schwartz on this project as signage and environmental graphic designers.
Pentagram’s DJ Stout and his team in Austin do chicken right. They rebranded Popeye’s in 2008, changing the name from Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits to Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen. The new identity they created for the national chain, known for its spicy New Orleans style chicken and red beans and rice, was included in the Graphic Design: Now in Production exhibition that opened at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis last fall. Then in 2009 they created a new identity for Chicken Now, a fast food chain that sells chicken strips and chicken fingers primarily in malls.
Now Stout and designer Barrett Fry have created the logo, identity, menus, T-shirts, website and even a neon sign for a new self-proclaimed “Rock and Roll Fried Chicken joint” in Austin called Lucy’s Fried Chicken. The new restaurant/bar, located at the far end of ultra-hip South Congress Avenue, is owned by James and Cristina Holmes, who named the place after James’s grandmother who taught him how to cook fried chicken. They also have a daughter named Lucy and own another, more upscale restaurant in Austin, Olivia, named after their other young daughter. James started cooking fried chicken for his Sunday brunch at Olivia and it was a big hit with his customers. Then he started selling it from a food trailer during the Austin City Limits Festival, which generated long lines across Zilker Park, where the festival is held annually. He realized that he had something special and that fried chicken, which had fallen out of favor over the years, was making a big comeback.
Established in 1825, the National Academy Museum and School has a mission to “promote the fine arts in America through instruction and exhibition.” Founded by a group of artists that included Thomas Cole, Asher Durand and Samuel F.B. Morse, it is the only institution of its kind to integrate a museum, art school and honorary association. It is modeled after the Royal Academy in London and is guided by a membership of esteemed artists and architects elected by peers. Members have included Jacob Lawrence, Frederic Edwin Church, Chuck Close, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Louise Bourgeois, Philip Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Cesar Pelli, Frank Gehry, Robert A.M. Stern and Maya Lin, among many others.
The National Academy is housed in a 1901 Beaux Arts mansion on Fifth Avenue at 89th Street, sited between the Guggenheim and the Cooper-Hewitt on New York’s Museum Mile. This fall the Academy completed an ambitious $3.5 million renovation designed to raise its profile and create a better visitor experience. Timed to the renovation, Pentagram’s Abbott Miller has refreshed the Academy’s identity and developed a new program of environmental graphics for the institution, including a striking typographic installation of members’ names on the ceiling of the museum’s foyer.
One of the best-reviewed documentaries of the summer, “Page One: Inside The New York Times” is a new film directed by Andrew Rossi that takes viewers inside the newsroom of the world’s greatest newspaper. The film portrays a particularly tumultuous year at the Times (it was filmed in 2009) during which the paper navigates the economic downturn and a changing media landscape that includes increasing competition from free online news aggregation (the paper’s digital pay-wall has since proven largely successful), social media like Twitter and Facebook, and new sources like WikiLeaks. Much of this is related through the pugnacious and highly entertaining presence of David Carr, the Times’ media columnist.
The film’s setting is The New York Times Building, the state-of-the-art headquarters designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and while Pentagram’s signage for the building doesn’t quite have a starring role, it definitely makes a long series of cameo appearances. For the building’s opening in 2007, Michael Bierut and team created a customized program of environmental graphics, including a massive landmark sign on the building’s façade and an interior program of wayfinding and identification signage. This interior signage, largely unseen except by staff, visitors and other insiders is unusual: there are over 800 office signs—each different, and each unmistakably part of the Times.
Supergraphics won big in this year’s SEGD Design Awards, recently announced. Two New York projects by Pentagram’s Paula Scher and team were honored in the awards: Achievement First Endeavor Middle School in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and the parking garage at 13-17 East 54th St. in Midtown Manhattan. Both projects use large-scale typography to create unique environments that integrate graphics and architecture.
New Yorkers are cooling off today as the city’s public pools officially open for the summer season. Our new signage for NYC Parks makes its first splash at nine pools, including Mullaly Pool in the Bronx, where the city celebrated the official opening of the season this morning, and at the Floating Pool Lady, the pool-on-a-barge at Barretto Point Park in the Bronx. The program will be installed at additional locations as park upgrades are made.
Designed by Paula Scher, the signage replaces the existing disparate signs and posted information (as seen in the image at the end of this post) into a cohesive modular system. The signs also feature our new identity for the NYC Parks system, with a modernized version of the Parks leaf.
Dive in! But only in designated areas, of course.
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.
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.