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About Us

Everywhere we go, we encounter implicit and explicit cues to guide us, from environment and behavior to graphics and manuals. In complex environments, these cues become part of a system that can assist people to sort through data, fill out a form, absorb new information, or navigate a place.

That's our realm. We specialize in creating public information design, the planning and presentation of complex information to diverse users and audiences. From signage to strategy, we design thoughtful, user-centric systems designed to navigate, inform, communicate, and create new visions of the world around us.

Our roots are in wayfinding, the art and science of helping people find their way. That's where we got our start, but we’ve since expanded our expertise to diverse and ambitious initiatives. Public or private, these initiatives can only succeed if they are effective in persuading stakeholders. Consulting with leaders in business, institutions and government, we use the tools of information design, data visualization, and interactive media to provide engaging narrative frameworks for big ideas, clarifying supporting information, creating a roadmap for implementation and making these accessible to all. 

So when visitors approach a building or public place, our designs help them to enter it and locate their destinations. And when clients or constituents approach complex information, we help them absorb it by organizing data, images, text, and other components. We tackle these projects strategically, knowing that strong branding and a unified context leads to powerful results. 

clients and collaborators

Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc

Alpha Partners

American Airlines Center, Dallas

American Institute of Graphic Arts

Apollo Theater

Arts, Culture, Philanthropy & Advocacy

Atlanta Federal Center

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Barnard College

Bayhealth Medical Center

Bear Stearns

Bellevue Hospital

Beyer Blinder Belle

Bike New York

Bloomberg LP

Boston Children's Hospital

Boston Properties

Brennan Beer Gorman/Architects

Bridgeport Intermodal Transportation Center

Brookfield Properties

Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal

Brooklyn Museum

Bruce Mau Design

Cambridge Seven Associates

Canizaro Cawthon Davis

Capital Properties

Carnegie Hall

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Central Synagogue

Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A.

Chicago Park District

Cho Benn Holback + Associates

Cigna

Cincinnati Transit Authority

Citibank, N.A.

Citigroup

City of Charlotte

City of Chicago

City of Hartford

Civic Entertainment Group

Cleveland Orchestra

Collins Center for the Arts

Columbia University

Comcast

Cooper, Robertson & Partners

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Cosentini Associates

Counter Restaurant, Manhattan

Daniel Frankfurt, PC

David & Peggy Rockefeller Collection

David M. Schwarz Architects

Davis Brody Bond

DIA Center for the Arts

Disneyland, Anaheim

DMJM Harris

Downtown Alliance

Downtown New York River to River Festival

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore

Downtown Partnership of New York

Duke Medical Center

Durham Parks & Recreation Department

Earl Swensson Associates

Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects

Election Assistance Campaign

Empire State Building Company

Empire State Development Corporation

Ennead Architects

Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

Five Front, Brooklyn

Flack + Kurtz Inc.

Flad & Associates

Ford Foundation

Grand Central Terminal

Greenberg Consultants Inc.

Gruzen Samton Architects

H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture Associates

Hargreaves

Hillwood Development Corp

Hines Limited

Historic Battery Park

HKS, Inc.

HNTB

HOK

Honolulu High Capacity Transit Corridor Project

HR&A Advisors, Inc.

Hudson Fairfax Partners

Hudson River Piers 88 & 90

Clients column 2

Ike Kligerman Barkley

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne University

International Fellowship Fund

Jack L. Gordon Architects

James McCullar & Associates Architects

Jewish Community Center

Johns Hopkins Hospital

Jones Lang LaSalle

Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Lenox Hill Hospital

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Lower Manhattan Development Corporation

M. Paul Friedberg and Partners

Macy's Herald Square

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church

Maestri, LLC

Maryland Transit Administration

Massachusetts Department of Public Works

Massachusetts General Hospital

Meadowlands Xanadu, New Jersey

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Mercy College

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

MetroTech Business Improvement District, Brooklyn

Mets Development Corporation

Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

Middlebury College

MoMA QNS

Mondawmin Mall, Baltimore

Montgomery College

Montgomery Watson Harza

MTA Long Island Railroad / Long Island Bus

Nashville Symphony Orchestra

NAT's Kids, Brooklyn

New Amsterdam Theatre

New Jersey Transit

New York Botanical Garden

New York City Center

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

New York Institute of Technology

New York Jets and New York Giants

New York Law School

New York State Urban Development Corporation

New York University

New York University Langone Medical Center

New York Zoological Society

Newhouse School of Public Communications

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

Northern Arizona University

NYC Department of Consumer Affairs

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

NYC Economic Development Corporation

NYC Housing Authority

NYC Municipal Water Finance Authority

NYC2012 Organizing Committee

Office of the Mayor of New York City

Office of the Mayor of Washington, DC

Ohio University

Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis

Packer Collegiate Institute

Parsons Brinckerhoff

Patrick L. Pinnel Architect

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

Perkins + Will

Perkins Eastman Architects

Pier 12, Brooklyn

Populous

Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

Princeton University

Prudential Douglas Elliman

Punahou School

Clients column 3

Quartararo & Associates, Inc

Queens West Development Corporation

Quennell Rothschild & Partners, LLP

R.M. Kliment & Frances Halsband Architects

Radio City Music Hall

Rafael Vinoly Architects

Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention

Restaurant Associates

Reynolds Performing Arts Center

Rhode Island Airport Authority

Rhode Island School of Design

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth

Rockefeller Center Retail Concourse

Rockwellgroup

Rubenstein Technology Group

Sam Schwartz Engineering

Scenic Hudson Land Trust

Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Severance Hall, Blossom Music Center

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Sound Transit, Washington

South Street Seaport & Marketplace

Sowinski Sullivan

St. Mark's Cathedral

Standard & Poor's

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

Steelcase, Inc.

Sterling Equities

Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse

Stubbins Associates

STV Incorporated

SUNY Albany: Arts & Sciences Building

Swiss Bank Corporation

T. Rowe Price Associates

TAMS Consultants

Ten W Architects

The Art Directors Club, Inc.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital

The LA Group

The Liberty Theater

The Mills Corporation

The Municipal Art Society of New York

The Olnick Organization

The Rockefeller Foundation

The Shops at Atlas Park, Queens

The Stubbins Associates

The Whitaker Center, Harrisburg

Thomas Balsley Associates

Tide Point, Baltimore

Times Square Business Improvement District

Tishman Speyer Properties

Towson University

Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie

Trinity College

Tsoi Kobus Architects

Two River Theatre Company

U.S. Japan Council

United States Bureau of the Census

United States Courthouse at Foley Square

United States Post Office

United Way

University at Buffalo, SUNY

University of Maine

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Urban Place Consulting Group Inc

US Tennis Association, Davis Cup

USA Weightlifting National Championships

van Dijk Westlake Reed Leskosky, now: Westlake Reed Leskosky

Van Wagner Communications, LLC

Van Wagner Sports Group, LLC

Victoria Ward Center

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vornado Realty Trust

Waikiki Business Improvement District Association

Wall Street Pier 11

Wallace Floyd Design Group

Washington Group International

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Weihe Design Group

West Midtown Ferry Terminal

William Nicholas Bodouva + Associates

Women's World Banking

World Championships of Freestyle Wrestling

World Outdoor Target Archery Championships

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Z

Wednesday
May072014

Sylvia Harris Receives 2014 AIGA Medal

On April 25, 2014 at the AIGA Centennial Gala, Sylvia Harris was posthumously awarded the AIGA Medal. The medal citation reads - Recognized for an unerring commitment to using design to improve the civic experience and for influencing a generation of designers as a teacher and mentor. In 1980 Sylvia Harris and her two Yale classmates David Gibson and Juanita Dugdale founded Two Twelve. Though Sylvia left the company in 1994 to found her own consulting firm, the commitment to design in the public interest that was made by the firms founders in the 1980's, continues to drive the work and mission of Two Twelve, now led by David Gibson and Ann Harakawa.

This is the biographical essay written by David Gibson for the AIGA Centennial Gala program book:

Sylvia Harris was a remarkable advocate of good design for real people—a Citizen Designer. She always lived her passions, so it is fitting that she named what was to be the last iteration of her professional practice Citizen Research & Design, which she envisioned as a research and planning firm designed to help public sector organizations better communicate with the people they serve.

The 2011 rebranding and repositioning of her firm, formerly Sylvia Harris LLC, was intended to help her achieve two things. On the one hand, Harris wanted to dig deeper into the field of research—to conduct rigorous investigations that would help organizations understand how people actually experience design systems. With that research in hand, she could set in motion intelligent plans for large-scale public design programs. At the same time, she wanted to build a practice that was bigger than herself—a band of citizens who would use their expertise on behalf of the common good. Although Harris had already accomplished a great deal in her life, her ambitious idea and new direction were cut short by her sudden and untimely death on July 24, 2011.

Harris’ journey began in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. As a young black woman in the South during the 1960s, she experienced desegregation firsthand and, in the process, gained a visceral understanding of how social systems affect people’s daily lives. She cultivated an interest in design while studying with AIGA Medalist Philip B. Meggs at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she received a B.F.A. in 1975. A move to Boston to work with architects and in broadcast media was formative in opening her eyes to the depth and diversity of graphic design practice. At the WGBH design department, Chris Pullman, another AIGA Medalist, became a mentor and catalyst for her enrollment in the master’s program in graphic design at Yale University.

Right after graduating from Yale, in 1980, Harris cofounded Two Twelve Associates with classmates Juanita Dugdale and myself. While dealing with the challenges of building a new design practice, she honed the skills and interests that would ultimately propel her career. As the projects became larger and more complex, she relentlessly explored how to use all of the tools in a designer’s tool kit to create comprehensive public information systems. Her groundbreaking work in digital consumer banking systems for Citibank set an early standard for human-centered automated customer service.

At Sylvia Harris LLC, which she established in 1994 after leaving Two Twelve, she shifted her focus to design planning and strategy. In the process, she guided some of the nation’s largest hospitals, universities and civic agencies through systems planning, policy development and innovation management. As creative director for the United States Census Bureau, Census 2000, she was tasked with encouraging more Americans—including those who had been previously under-represented—to participate. Distributed to 80 million households, the 2000 Census presented an opportunity to study how a redesigned form might boost participation as well as public awareness of the Census brand.

Harris was a woman of great energy, passion and intelligence. She nurtured these qualities by reaching out beyond the walls of her studio. She had a remarkable ability to draw smart, talented young people into her network, making them collaborators and friends. And she generously gave back to the design community that she so vibrantly inhabited for more than three decades, mentoring students as a faculty member of Yale’s graphic design program and as a teacher at the School of Visual Arts, Cooper Union and Purchase College. She also served on the U.S. Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee.

As a designer and a woman, Sylvia Harris always wanted to do the right thing, the smart thing, the thing that would make the biggest difference to the most people. She was the model citizen—a Citizen Designer. 

See Sylvia's medalist page on the AIGA website.

 

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