When Harvard's requested an identity for its newly formed innovation lab it became clear early on that first and foremost it needed to be welcoming. The identity also needed to be flexible enough to support the highly diverse, interdisciplinary mission of its newly formed lab. The lab welcomes students and entrepreneurs from all across the University, from the local community and visitors around the world.
On a fast-track schedule we developed a series of mood boards and concepts that we presented on a spectrum of "Harvard" to "Un-Harvard." On the far end of the spectrum we presented an idea to disguise the entire building as a boutique hotel (inspired by the apparel store Bodega) and on the near side were concepts that used more traditional academic iconography. The "Hi" icon sat somewhere in the middle and felt oddly fresh as a seemingly unbranded icon that could symbolize "Harvard innovation." Looking back through our mood boards there were products by the Japanese retail company MUJI and this emerging notion of metamodernism.
The Principal architect on the project was Tom Kearns of Shepley Bulfinch with Anna Farrington, formerly of Roll Barresi Associates as a signage consultant. The talented Erin Deeley served as Junior Designer. We also worked with worked with projection artist John Powell on a typographic LED light mural on the facade.
The "Hi" icon on the buildings facade is nearly 8 feet square. Months after the building opened I received an email from Harvard informing me that school children, as their school buses drive by were waving "Hi" at the building. You can read more about the identity and how it was developed in this blog post.
Architectural photos ©Anton Grassl/Esto.