Located on 80 open acres of lush, rolling meadows, woods and wetlands in New Canaan, Connecticut, Grace Farms is a social and cultural institution unlike any other. The new center, which opened this month, provides a place for people to experience nature, foster community, pursue social justice, and explore the connections between art and faith, immersed in a beautiful landscape. Pentagram has designed an identity for the multi-faceted institution, including a website that highlights its initiatives and gives a sense of the unique environment.
Grace Farms centers on “the River,” an extraordinary ribbon-like building of glass, wood and steel designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architects SANAA that undulates across the grounds in a series of twists and turns that echo the curves of a river. The switchbacks in the 1,400-foot-long, 83,000-square-foot structure encompasses facilities for the arts, worship, sports, performances and education, including a 700-seat auditorium, library, café and gym.
The designers worked closely with Sharon Prince, president and co-founder of the Grace Farms Foundation, to develop the identity. The wordmark takes its cues from the delicate architecture of the building and the goals of the organization. Set in the contemporary sans serif font Darby Sans with a customized structure, the wordmark brings together sinuous, curving letterforms and tailored typography that shows the beauty of construction.
The identity provides the basis for a carefully calibrated graphic system that bridges the built environment and the natural world and displays openness, accessibility and, of course, grace. For the mark, the designers developed an icon that functions as and resembles a "@" symbol, emphasizing the social aspects of the organization. A complete program of custom icons was also created to represent various activities and elements.
Grace Farms' online presence is similarly designed to be clean, clear and accessible and to highlight the programming and initiatives. Structured around wide-screen views of the landscape and activities, the site utilizes video filmed with drones and beautiful photographs to give a sense of the amazing environment and everything the center offers. (Video is by Ultan Guilfoyle of Architecture on Film; the photography is by Dean Kaufman.) The elegant and intuitive layout offers an abbreviated menu for a quick navigation or a larger menu for a more detailed overview, and smoothly carries from website to mobile.
Pentagram also developed environmental graphics for the grounds and merchandising for the organization.