For a financial services corporation’s headquarters overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Ayers Saint Gross developed an environmental graphic design program that serves as a three-dimensional manifestation of its heritage and brand values.
Commissioned to introduce a strong brand statement to an architectural fit-out then under construction, ASG completed the environmental graphics within a very aggressive schedule––from schematic design to installation in less than six months. Extensive coordination was required between two architecture firms, a lighting designer, a general contractor, a millworker, and two signage fabricators.
The project also included several technical innovations, such as CNC-milled complex- curve panels, which required the development of a new process for efficient and accurate document delivery. Instead of traditional two-dimensional design-intent documents, the fabricator was provided a three-dimensional Revit BIM model as a design document used to mill the panels.
Environmental graphics are threaded throughout the two-level executive suite, tied together by unifying concepts of water and fluid motion. These two metaphors––connected waterways and streaming information––are expressed through sculptural surfaces, typography, and imagery. Architectural and brand palettes are seamlessly integrated.
As visitors enter the executive suite, illuminated niches guide them along a wood-paneled corridor. Dimensional graphic displays within the niches feature brand statements and images of the firm’s global offices. In the reception lobby at the end of the corridor, the niches expand in scale to reveal a tone-on-tone world map indicating office locations around the globe. The materials palette––colored glass with etched graphics and lacquered wave-motif panels––is energetic but sophisticated.
The design celebrates corporate affiliates and global reach, and culminates in a feature stair, just past the lobby, where thought leadership statements from around the firm and around the globe are translated into textural dimensional typography. This double-height expression, the backdrop to a marble-clad stair connecting the two executive levels, is illuminated with colored light, and includes text in multiple languages, including calligraphic forms from non-Western languages such as Japanese and Arabic.
“Beautifully integrated environmental graphics detailed to perfection. The horizontal sculptural undulating panels bring an organic quality to the static graphics that complement the interior design.”
“This concept for placemaking shows that the use of image and type doesn't have to be a bold statement with all the bells and whistles from our increasingly digital society, but can be a refined use of typographic texture and quiet color. The use of quotations as a world map combined with an actual world map shows that corporate expression can be creative, strong, and memorable while telling a story.”
Jamie Barnett (creative director); Lee Hyden (interior designer); Christian Mueller, Katie Rosenberg (environmental graphic designers); Noah Harburger (BIM modeler); Scott Vieth (architect)
Armada Hoffler Construction Co. (general contractor), HDLC (lighting design), MMM Design Group (MEP engineers), Morris & Ritchie Associates (structural engineers)
Coyle & Company (glass elements, timeline exhibits), Creative Dimension Group (dimensional typography, milled sculptural features), Patella Woodworking (millwork)