How do you design a gallery to feel like you’re walking onto the University of Pennsylvania’s campus? That was the question we answered with our most recent installation of “Transformation by Design” on behalf of Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services (Penn FRES). Transformation by Design celebrated the last ten years of Penn’s innovative development, specifically focusing on the design and construction of more than ten architecturally significant and stunning new buildings and parks. These include: Skirkanich Hall, Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, Annenberg Public Policy Center, Penn Park, Shoemaker Green, and the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology.

Lead J2 designers Cara Cox and Lucy Price created a wall-to-wall vinyl room with every building printed from the floor to the ceiling in halftone Pantone Blue (one of Penn’s colors). When a visitor enters the gallery space, they are dwarfed by the scale of the wall panels and the immersive blue color, which also has the feeling of architectural blueprints.

Transformation by design exhibition center for architecture upenn fres

Eleven 4’x 8′ wooden panels, outlined in Warm Red (part of the color palette we’ve been using for Penn designs), provide descriptions about each building and create pops of color that carry the visitor’s eye through the entire space.

Transformation by design exhibition center for architecture upenn fres

As a nod to architectural studios and the office of Penn FRES, original blueprints of the building were arranged on a large table in the middle of the room. Visitors were encouraged to touch, browse, and look through the plans. Another table held a 40-year-old scale model of the entire Penn campus, which has been slowly built out over the years to show the complete transformation. Flags note where each of the new buildings are located on campus.

In all, the exhibit showed just how cutting edge and intentional Penn has been in its build-out of the campus. As noted by one Penn employee, walking around campus now feels like being in an architectural rendering with “awesome newness” surrounding you. This exhibition was our interpretation of that feeling.

Transformation by design exhibition center for architecture upenn fres
Transformation by design exhibition center for architecture upenn fres
Transformation by design exhibition center for architecture upenn fres
Transformation by design exhibition center for architecture upenn fres
Transformation by design exhibition center for architecture upenn fres
Transformation by design exhibition center for architecture upenn fres

Client: University of Pennsylvania Facilities and Real Estate

Space: Center / Architecture + Design

Installation: Exact Image

Designers: Brian Jacobson (Creative Director), Cara Cox (Lead Designer), Lucy Price (Lead Designer), Tabitha Ahnert (Junior Designer)