Scrabble on the Cincinnati Skyline

Honor Award

Scrabble on the Cincinnati Skyline is an interactive experience that utilizes Cincinnati's horizon as a backdrop for a visual game. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center becomes the axis point for this experience, which then weaves itself through the surrounding riverfront area.

User participation in this experience is essential to the design, becoming a metaphor for a larger message. Social conflict, much like a word game, requires citizens to take an active role in solving the problem. This experience provides a light-hearted reminder to the people of Cincinnati of the importance of staying proactive in the pursuit of equality.

The concept behind Scrabble takes advantage of the city's open space. The viewing opportunity is essential to the design, which utilizes spatial relationships between multiple surfaces at varying distances. These connections are a visual event where two or more differently oriented objects seem to come together. Cut letterforms placed on various building surfaces create a spatial illusionary effect. When a pedestrian stands at a specific point, identified by a painted icon on the sidewalk, the pieces of the letterforms visually come together to form a word.

Jury Comments: 

"A true expression of environmental graphics in its purest form is discovered in this concept. Engaging the viewer in movement through space to make visual connections with their surroundings and the community is a strong response to the stated goals of the Freedom Center."

Design Firm: 

Mike Ruehlman, University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning

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Photo Credits: 

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Design Team: 

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Consultants: 

Gordon Salchow (instructor)

Fabricators: 

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