Hazen and Sawyer

Brand Identity, Digital Design

Identity and website design for the world's leading engineering firm devoted to water.

Hazen and Sawyer is the world’s leading engineering firm devoted to water. Headquartered in New York, the company has 42 offices across the U.S., as well as in Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Jordan, and focuses on developing safe water drinking systems, as well as controlling water pollution and its effects on the environment. Pentagram has designed a new identity for the firm that reflects its stature in the field.

The work Hazen and Sawyer does is incredibly important, especially as access to fresh water becomes a critical issue around the globe. Staffed by a team that includes many of the world’s top environmental engineers and scientists, the firm addresses these growing challenges. The new identity integrates the company’s mission into its logotype, which features a ripple of water inspired by the free water surface symbol, a notation used in water system engineering.

Founded in 1951 by Richard Hazen and Alfred Sawyer, Hazen and Sawyer has been instrumental in the development of water engineering. The company’s roots stretch back to Richard’s father, Allen Hazen, a public health pioneer who created several water quality and sanitation tools and terms still in use today, including the Hazen-Williams equation, a correlation between water flow and pipe size that is used in the design of water pipe systems. Allen Hazen consulted on the construction of the Panama Canal, as well as the filtration of the New Croton Aqueduct, the 33-mile-long tunnel that was originally placed in service in 1890 and conveys drinking water by gravity to New York City. This year, Hazen and Sawyer completed work on the Croton Filtration Plant in the Bronx, the city’s first water treatment plant. The project included a rehabilitation of the New Croton Aqueduct.

The new Hazen and Sawyer identity replaces an outdated and anonymous wordmark that gave no real clue as to what the firm does. (This had to be explained in an added tagline, “Environmental Engineers & Scientists.”) The company’s name remains Hazen and Sawyer, but the new logotype highlights the more concise “Hazen,” which is how the firm is colloquially known. The wordmark has a bold, monumental quality that conveys the company's position. The Hazen name is set in Newzald, a classic serif font with a modern feel. The identity appears in a dark blue inspired by water, and the logotype is anchored at its center by a rippling wavelet that reinforces the company’s expertise.

The distinctive ripple mark has been adapted from the free water surface symbol, a handwritten notation made by engineers on plans and drawings to indicate the location of water reserves. To create the mark, the designers eliminated the symbol’s directional arrow and redrew the lines of water to more closely resemble rippling liquid. For Hazen and Sawyer, the symbol represents the firm’s commitment to finding solutions and the lasting effects, or ripple, of the recommendations it makes.

In addition to designing the logotype, the designers developed a comprehensive identity system that makes the look of the firm’s communications more contemporary and consistent. A significant portion of the project was the design of editorial templates and style guides for the wide range of documents, reports and proposals that Hazen issues and prepares.

Engineers are accustomed to reams of technical data, and the designers established a clean, simple format that organizes information into clear hierarchies that are easier for readers to understand. Custom icons were created for the various elements and phases of a project. The team also developed an elegant design for Horizons, Hazen’s quarterly publication. The identity system utilizes a mix of Newzald and the sans serif font Founders Grotesk for headlines and text.

The editorial approach extends to a new design for the Hazen and Sawyer website, which features a structured modular format that highlights the firm’s important projects in slideshows of striking images.

New York
Paula Scher
Project team
Jeff Close
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