Merit Award

Think: An Exploration Into Making The World Better

A cornerstone of IBM’s centennial year celebration, THINK was a multimedia exhibition that brought to life the many ways in which people are making the world work better through innovation. It was free to the public, drawing 25,000+ diverse visitors—from CEOs to school kids—in its month-long run at NYC's Lincoln Center.

A 123-foot-long LED wall attracted visitors with color, animated patterns that visualized real-time data from local sensors, and live feeds from government agencies and academic institutions about water consumption, solar energy, air quality, traffic congestion, and commerce. As visitors walked along the wall toward the exhibit space, they discovered how we can now see and measure change, waste, and opportunities in the world’s systems.

The exhibit space presented a dynamic display of 20 two-sided, 8-foot-tall media columns arranged in a field of viewing clusters. The columns supported 40 85-inch plasma screens that served dual functions as displays and touch interactives. Housed between two 100-foot mirrored walls, this 3,000-square-foot field of media extended into infinity on both sides. The film component of the theater experience was a 10-minute exploration into the pattern of technological progress. Filmed with a custom-built three-camera system, it was a stunning visual experience that touched on stories of advances in medicine, agriculture, and traffic sensor systems. When the film ended, each of the 40 screens became interactive touchscreens, allowing visitors to actively explore and seek deeper insights into the ideas, initiatives, tools, and techniques that promise real ways to make our world work better.

THINK was inspired by IBM’s 1964 World’s Fair Pavilion, which ignited widespread interest in computing and set the stage for the technological revolution. Just as the pavilion demystified the complex scientific concepts of that era, THINK aimed to define today's conversation about technology.



Jury Comments: 

“Well done. It’s unfortunate that only 25,000 people got to see it. It is socially responsible and done at the scale of a city. The use of real-time data and local live feeds make it very relevant, informative, and beautiful.”

“Rather than becoming a commercial for IBM, this project really hit the mark by celebrating the centennial of an American institution in a truly dynamic and engaging manner. Interesting subject matter is pulled from a variety of sources in the form of data and transposed into stimulating graphic form that is far from predictable and really prompts thought. The application of large-touch screen displays provided an interactive experience at a memorable scale.”

“THINK is a testament to the power of bridging informatics with environmental graphic design, while leveraging the full potential of the technology in a way that doesn't become a gimmick. The information presented was not only functional, but truly beautiful.”

Design Firm: 

Ralph Appelbaum Associates, SYPartners, Mirada



Location City: 

New York

Project Area: 

10,000 square feet

Open Date: 

September 2011

Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

Albert Vecerka/Esto Photographics

Design Team: 

Ralph Appelbaum Associates Inc.
Ralph Appelbaum (principal in charge); James Carthcart (project director); Alex Vlack (executive producer); Lilly Preston (senior producer); Caitlin Mennen-Bobula (project manager); Carlos Rodriguez, Andri Klausen (3D designers); Josh Hartley, Rosanna Vitiello (graphic designers), Ilona Parkansky (content developer)

Susana Rodriguez de Tembleque (executive creative director in charge, script writer); Nicolas Maitret (principal in charge, creative director, script writer); Jeff O'Brien (content director, writer, researcher); Stuart Luman (writer, researcher); Julie Felner, Tom Raith (script writers); Heui Jin Jo, Becky Hui, Carl DeTorres (graphic designers); Sabrina Clark (project manager); Vasilia Emmanouilides, Sarah Keough, Joel Chevallier, Jimmy Stones (production designers); Keith Yamashita (brand character)

Mathew Cullen (director); Javier Jimenez (executive producer), Annie Johnson (producer); Guillermo Navarro (director of photography); Kaan Atilla, Jesus de Francisco (creative directors); John Fragomeni (head of visual effects); David Fowler (associate creative director, film); Andy Cochrane, Jonah Hall, Zach Tucker (VFX supervisors); Jonathan Wu (senior art director); Peter Nelson, James Taylor, Lyn Gaza (producers); Andrew Merkin (project manager); Andrin Mele-Shadwick, Derek Johnson (post-production coordinators); Lenny Messina (lead editor); Fred Fouquet, Bryan Keith, Mike Merkwan (editors)


Casey Reas (Dataviz consultant), David Wicks (Dataviz lead), Sosolimited (interactive programming), Mark Renton (lead flame artist), Money Mark (score), NVT (A/V),
Joe Beirne (technical specialist), PostWorks (systems integration)


George P. Johnson (exhibit fabrication, engineering, installation, and event management)

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