Cerner Identity Structure

Merit Award

A heavily wooded, sloped site hid Cerner's campus from passersby; lack of signage presented wayfinding problems. The challenge was to create not just a sign that announced the home of Cerner, but an "identity structure" that would become an important landmark within the city.

Along with pragmatic elements such as the company's logo, the client wanted to incorporate the 'double helix' into the design of the structure; the client believes the helix embodies the essence of scientific and technological advancement, two driving forces of the company. Early studies centered on the nature of the spiral, underpinning mathematical sequences, limitless expansion, rhythm, fluctuation, etc. Designers also explored the idea that the structure should generate visual impact from a vehicular vantage point as well as a compelling pedestrian experience. The dichotomy between the dissimilar scales and speeds of travel also became a unifying theme of the design.

Early modeling efforts examined a structural system with a folding skin reflecting the fluid undulation apparent in the spiral. Further development ensued, with extensive detailing and engineering, material testing, and lighting research undertaken to finalize the design concept.

The complete system for the 610' long sign structure comprises 72 panels supported vertically by stainless steel structural fins of varying depth and shape. Each panel is constructed from 18-gauge stainless steel, with a perforation pattern generated from a random sequence of binary code. The panels and structural fins fold at two-inch increments from flat to convex to concave. The steel fabricator employed a sophisticated system to manipulate the precise degree of folding. The cavity of each panel is internally illuminated at night by high-output fluorescent light fixtures mounted at the top and bottom of each panel. High-output LED internally illuminates the logo and letters on the sign.

A curved masonry wall, which sweeps behind the sign structure, is constructed of polished limestone. A paved walking path weaves between the flat panels down the hill, follows the radius behind the sign structure, passes in front of the limestone masonry wall, and integrates into the existing campus pedestrian network.

Jury Comments: 

"Binary code rendered as a jewel in the environment. Perhaps the logo could have been rendered in a softer manner, but this piece makes identity into a landmark." "A beautiful play of material, form, and light."

Design Firm: 

Gould Evans Goodman


Cerner Corporation

Location City: 

Kansas City, Missouri

Project Area: 

610 feet long

Open Date: 


Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 


Design Team: 

Greg Nook, AIA, Bob Gould, FAIA, Tony Rohr, AIA (Principal in Charge), Scott Dawald, Brian Mirakian, Gary Gardenhire, Neil Sommers, Brian Murch, David Herron, Rick Howell




Zahner Co. Architectural Metal

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