Spertus Institute

Honor Award

Spertus Institute Graphics and Wayfinding

“Let there be light” is the phrase that accompanies the logo for the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. The logo is a graphic representation of a candle flame—symbolizing the Spertus commitment to learning through education and the arts, today and into the future.

In November 2007, the Spertus Institute moved into a new building on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. Designed by Krueck & Sexton, the building has a dramatic 10-story faceted-glass façade, part of an architectural design that directly expresses the organization’s mission and values and provides a window into the world of Jewish learning and culture.

In 2005, Studio/lab began work with Krueck & Sexton to develop an environmental graphics and wayfinding system for the new facility. Like the architecture, the typographic system is a “study in light.” The key design element is a modern sans-serif font combined with a traditional serif italic font. Placed on two sides of the many interior glass surfaces, these two fonts create a “flickering” typeface, serving as the candlelight of the logo brought to life in architectural space.

Large-scale glass directories located between the main elevators of each floor allow visitors to easily locate the variety of educational and cultural programming offered. Shadows created from the etched typography are very much a part of the environmental brand expression.

Jury Comments: 

“Take away, take away, and take away. And then when there is nothing left to remove, imbue the program with a subtleness of light and shadow that gently animates the graphics. I love the way the program is big without being loud, clever without being gimmicky. I wanted to put my name on this project and claim it for my own.”

“Man’s attraction to light and the power of a flame enamored all the judges. The allure of this project kept speaking to us at a deeper soul level. The integration and interplay of light and shadow on glass transcends you from the entrance, to the lobby, and the vertical circulation architecture. The beauty in the typography and the elegant simplicity are truly enchanting. Thank you for your inspiration…it has left a mark.”

Design Firm: 

Studio/lab

Client: 

Krueck & Sexton Architects, Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies

Location City: 

Chicago, Illinois

Photo Credits: 

Tim Wilson, Studio/lab

Design Team: 

Marcia Lausen (principal in charge), Jody Work (project manager/designer), Hillary Geller, Cheyenne Medina, Meeyoung Melamed

Fabricators: 

Schellhorn Graphic Solutions (vinyl cutting and installation, consultation), ASI Modulex (standard signs, donor wall), Skyline Design (glass etching), ColorImage (exit map)

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