Founded in 1935, the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University in Philadelphia is one of the leading institutions in the U.S. for the study of art, design and the built environment. Pentagram’s Paula Scher has designed a new graphic identity for Tyler—which happens to be her alma mater—with a visual language that highlights the school’s cross-disciplinary focus and features a custom typeface.
Pentagram worked closely on the project with leadership and faculty at Tyler, including Dean Susan E. Cahan. The new identity coincides with a name expansion for the institution, which was previously known as the Tyler School of Art. Tyler is based at Temple University, the large public research university in Philadelphia. The expanded name is the result of a school-wide assessment and strategic planning process and, more than two decades after Temple’s Architecture program became part of the school, fully integrates Tyler’s programs in Architecture and Environmental Design and realigns Tyler’s programs to support cross-disciplinary study.
“The name change is a big step in the history of our institution, and we wanted an identity that would publicly affirm the breadth of disciplines the school encompasses and project a sense of boldness and unity,” says Dean Cahan.
The new identity captures this evolution in a distinctive graphic framework that is designed to encompass all that Tyler has to offer. The logo locks up the Tyler name with the signature “Art + Architecture,” and can be stacked with additional titles and programs. The plus sign is an integral part of the identity, signaling the school’s widening scope and continued growth (more additive and expansive than an ampersand).
The identity features bold, highly structured typography that is immediately recognizable as Tyler. The system utilizes a proprietary typeface, Lumin Tyler, a customized version of the slab serif Lumin designed by Nikola Djurek and Peter Bil'ak at Typotheque. The font accentuates the thin weight of diacritics (a glyph added to a letter, in some cases called an accent) and symbols across all weights. Thin superscript dots, or tittles, are used over the “i” and “j” in both light and bold weights, and punctuation like the question mark and exclamation point are also thin. The result are hybrid letterforms that look almost like stencil drawings. Combining a slab serif with thinness, along with shifts in scale in the typography, creates a beautiful contrast and varied visual texture. The Tyler logo and display type are set in Audree, also designed by Typotheque.
The primary color palette is monochromatic, comprised of simple black, white and gray. In applications like posters and admissions materials, the limited palette and heavily contrasted letterforms set off images of work by students. A motif of strong graphic rules is built into the identity to create hierarchy and contrast.
“The identity has clarity and energy,” says Cahan. “During the design process, we showed some of the work to our students and they said it made them feel like they go to a school that encourages them to be inventive because there’s an unpredictability built into the design. That unexpectedness—and structure and boldness simultaneously—is engaging and exciting.”
“The identity is recognizable and will help to instill a sense among our students, staff, faculty and alumni that we all belong to something together,” says Cahan. “The design embodies the qualities that we value at the school—creativity, boldness, commitment. There’s a solidity and seriousness, but at the same time it’s not heavy.”
The designers created guidelines for the consistent implementation of the identity across all of the school’s communications, including print and digital advertising, admissions materials, and e-newsletters.