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Culpepper began this effort for his MFA graduate thesis at Academy of Art
University. He is currently an assistant professor of graphic design at Ferris
Interventions have been deployed by
teams of design students and design professionals, as credited on the Grafik Intervention website.
Special thanks to the AIGA Ferris State University student group and the class of 2011 graphic
How can graphic designers use their skills to
draw attention to—and invoke a solution to—the problem of urban decay? How
can they take responsibility and help rehabilitate those wounded environments?
Buildings that sit vacant for one or more years
can become eyesores in any community and even bring down the value of
properties surrounding them. In some situations, it is too costly to
rehabilitate these spaces, causing developers to avoid them and leaving them
susceptible to blight. This project was designed to help bring awareness to these
abandoned urban spaces and to inspire community members to consider the
potential these currently unused buildings hold.
uses digital projections to engage the public through visually dynamic and
compelling communication methods. The projections are designed to provide
historical information in an urban context on buildings after dark. Through the
use of projected visuals and real-time discussions, printed questionnaires are
used to elicit information from the general public as they walk, ride or drive
by the case study buildings.
Cities were identified and selected based on their abandoned urban spaces and potential for revitalization. Within each identified city, several case study buildings were carefully selected based on their notable history and location, in contrast to their current state of abandonment.
Information of each building’s history was
projected onto its facade creating a juxtaposition, thus, illuminating each
Introducing Grafik Intervention from Grafik Intervention on Vimeo.
Through engagement and awareness positive results occur when active community members take action and pride in their own
neighborhoods and communities. Grafik Intervention is documenting each
intervention as it happens.
Designers and design students across the country have expressed interest in implementing their own Grafik Interventions, enabled by the D.I.Y. steps outlined on the project website. At least 10 are planned for 2011-2012. Here is information on the three that have taken place so far.
Charlottesville’s Starr Hill neighborhood is uniquely positioned between two of the city’s largest economic engines: the thriving downtown and the renowned University of Virginia. Currently, Starr Hill is rather derelict, run down and is waiting for a major revitalization. A local business association took interest.
They noticed the potential of this unused urban corridor and created the first
annual Midtown Street Fair. This fair was the first of its kind. Community
members, lead by the association, have begun to showcase West Main Street as an
important development center for Charlottesville.
The town of Big Rapids is located in central Michigan. Big Rapids was
settled in 1853 on the site of a main rest stop on the Mackinaw Trail.
Lumbering was the dominant industry during the boom and decline of the
latter 1800s. Despite being a university town, Big Rapids has several vacant, unused or for-sale buildings in the city limits. Students projected graphic images onto the
facades of an old automotive building, a former train depot and the
original location for a local newspaper. Local community and university
newspapers were on location, talking with participants and documenting the event
for extended media coverage.
A group of local artists and art enthusiasts
who create one-night, site-specific art installations secured the
25,000-square-foot abandoned building at 2 East Fulton as the next SiTE:LAB
location on April 15, 2011. SiTE:LAB facilitates dynamic collaborations between
the art, education, business and cultural communities of Grand Rapids.
Site-specific projects included students, faculty and alumni representing eight Michigan colleges and universities, as well as a number of local artists. AIGA student group members at Ferris State University projected dual images on the exterior façade of the building, illuminating the past and posing questions for the future use of 2 East Fulton.
Future interventions are planned in: Austin; Boston; Boulder;
Detroit; Flagstaff, Arizona; Phoenix; and
This project has been done pro bono. Culpepper has developed this project on his own time. He credits its success with the interest in community and neighborhood volunteers.
This case study is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Looking for additional ways to design for good? This list of organizations and programs is a great place to start. There are many more opportunities out there—so if you know of a resource we should add here let us know!
Design for Good
Learn more about why Design for Good matters, the ways in which AIGA will support you and how the program encapsulates more than just pro bono work.
Section: Why Design -
AIGA Insight, Design for Good, social responsibility
The online network that Cloudred built for Cities of Service—a bipartisan coalition of mayors working to engage citizens in public service—allows cities to broadcast their most urgent needs in a quick and easy format.
Section: Why Design -
Design for Good, web design, social responsibility
In the wake of an unprecedented $1.7 billion in state funding cuts, California’s three segments of higher education turned to the communications team at UC for help.
Section: Why Design -
Design for Good, education, pro bono
When Laura Berglund noticed that students often fell victim to crimes simply because they lacked information, she decided to do something about it. Her solution, “Anchor: A Campaign Against Crime on College Campuses,” leaves no platform behind—from iPhone apps to street art.
Section: Why Design -
Design for Good, social responsibility, design educators, students
As the time that people spend in virtual environments increases, it becomes more and more important to design healthy “visual” spaces where people can still find some connection with nature.
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