Dan Vlahos

Shepley Bulfinch

Agents of Change Badge, 2010

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The Shepley Bulfinch "Agents of Change" graphic communicates the idea that architecture is not just about "building" but moreover is strategic mechanism for personal, organizational and institutional change. The graphic was utilized in both the annual mailing to clients and the internal card from the President to staff.

The badge-like graphic was constructed using iconography firm's first logo, a hand-drawn monogram done by H.H. Richardson himself around 1882. In a letter to his wife Richardson describes the seal as "two strange beasts biting at a piece of forbidden fruit" symbolizing "the forbidden." Oddly enough this reminded me of the wonderful tension between both knowledge and irreverence found in the present day Apple logo.

We then conceptualized and added the latin phrase "certus intentio" which most would guess translates to "certain intention" but actuality more closely means "definitely plan" or even closer, "defining design." I guess you could say our goal was for the firm to adopt it as a motto of sorts, a more abstract way of saying what William McDonough once said, that: "Design is the first signal of human intention."

We kept asking ourselves how we could move the firm beyond "services" and gradually restore the firm to its position as "the great American architectural design firm." Equally we wanted to make sure people clearly understood what we meant by "design." Thus, we kept pushing for the brand focus to be around intentionality and not style. To help make it real we brought in local design legend and AIGA medalist Chris Pullman to lead several workshops, helping coach us on how to approach and challenge subjectivity.

The badge itself was inspired by a work by Shepard Fairey. Erin Deeley was the junior designer on the project.

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Shepley Bulfinch Badge Graphic