UBC DONOR AND ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT
university of british columbia, vancouver
2017 segd global award of merit, 2016 applied arts egd award
UBC's donor engagement office was looking for the opposite of a "donor wall"—a bold and engaging interactive work which would enliven the public realm at Vancouver's campus for decades to come. The work recognizes the contributions of the 4,300+ donors to UBC's multi-billion dollar, seven-year “start an evolution” fundraising campaign. It needed to be clearly visible, attractive to passersby, permanent, vandal-resistant and strategically placed within the design of public realm in relation to other large signage elements which together form a narrative of the UBC brand. The location is the intersection of two prominent pedestrian pathways in the heart of the campus and a high traffic area. We chose this area because of it's proximity to the bus loop, the new Alumni Centre, Student Union Building and revamped bookstore. The position of the pillars acts not only as a design feature to the pedestrian walkway but also acts as a traffic calming element in slowing down bicyclists. Placed in a seemingly random scattering at the pathway intersection, twenty triangular pillars create a bold, vertical “surface” of light. This becomes almost an "outdoor room" once you are inside it and is visible from afar in both day and night. As a donor recognition piece it reveals typographic detail as people approach. The triangular shape appears thinner or thicker depending on your angle of view, creating a dynamic series of views through the pillars.
The interactive approach, designed in collaboration with NGX Interactive, draws inspiration from the ripple effect which is central to UBC's “start an evolution” fundraising campaign. That is, that one action creates a second, third, and on-going reactions and seemingly unrelated people and elements become related through the powerful relationships that UBC cultivates. The light colour palette was specifically selected to coordinate with both the UBC brand colour—blue—and the fundraising campaign colour—magenta. As visitors walk through the forest of pillars they find themselves enveloped in the subtle glow of blue-green lights. The visitors' movement triggers motion detectors to shoot a ripple effect of magenta light through each acrylic lamp. Visitors will notice that as they approach one pillar, their presence changes the light of that pillar, and then another neighbouring pillar, and then its neighbour, and so on enveloping the sidewalk in a ripple of magenta light.