Achievement First Endeavor Middle School

Merit Award

For the Achievement First Endeavor Middle School, a Brooklyn charter school for grades 5 through 8, Pentagram created a program of environmental graphics that help the school interiors become a vibrant space for learning. The Pentagram team worked with Rogers Marvel Architects, which designed the school as a refurbishment and expansion of an existing building.

The environmental graphics were inspired by a series of motivational slogans used by the school’s teachers. Achievement First originally produced the slogans––“All of us will learn,” “Whatever it takes,” etc.––as colorful stickers that students were encouraged to affix to their books and lockers. Pentagram enlarged these slogans into supergraphics that help define the interior spaces. The graphics appear as a series of equations (“Education = Choice,” “Education = Freedom”) in the halls, with quotations running around the perimeter of the gymnasium, and most noticeably, climbing the main staircase at a front of the school, where they are visible through windows to the street. The graphics become part of the architecture and make the building a participant in the learning process.

All of this was accomplished with little expense. Paint was used as a simple and economical solution for transforming the space. In rooms like the cafeteria, the bands of color define and enhance the architecture, creating an illusion of depth that expands the space. In other areas, the painting of typography, set in Rockwell, is intricate and detailed.

Jury Comments: 

“A wonderful integration of message with the environment. A fantastic use of vibrant color and typography that transforms the space with a low-tech yet high-impact solution both inside and out.” 

Design Firm: 



Achievement First

Location City: 

Brooklyn, New York

Project Area: 


Open Date: 


Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

Peter Mauss/Esto

Design Team: 

Paula Scher (art director/designer), Andrew Freeman (senior designer), Drea Zlanabitnig (designer)


Civic Builders (project management and construction)


Denise J. Mayer Architectural Graphics (overall signage and production), Nela Design (supergraphic lettering), Claridan Contracting (graphic striping)

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