Making Buildings Talk
C.C. Sullivan -- Interior Design, 11/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
The memorable logo of San Francisco International Airport, bonded in gray frit on a long glass wall, announces that travelers have arrived. This 2000 project similarly trumpeted the arrival of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's graphics practice, based in San Francisco and headed by associate partner Lonny Israel.
With Israel's contributions, SOM spaces and surfaces seem to talk: The graphics are often so closely linked to architectural expression that, ironically, they practically disappear. "Having graphics in-house makes us look at a solution from a different point of view," Israel explains. "There's a desire to have work communicate in a stronger way to express a client's vision and brand."
In some cases, graphics are essential to schematic conception; in others, the graphics team joins the project later, adding accents or overlays. For a 37-acre commercial and residential development in Beijing, applications of identity create an instant civic landmark. At Dublin Airport, computer-generated portraits will weave a tale of the country's cultural and literary legacy.
The graphics practice also produces in-house printed material and eye-catching collateral and sample binders to accompany product launches. It's in the built realm, however, that results seem most potent. While Israel himself has been quietly at work since he joined the Chicago office in 1987, and SOM's history of graphics dates back to the 1960's, the secret is now officially out.