Environmental graphics were an integral part of Arrowstreet’s architectural and interior design for Alma Del Mar’s Frederick Douglass Campus. We began the graphics process with emersion into the school’s culture to ensure the design strategy would advance the school’s rigorous academic program and enhance its mission to develop service-minded leaders.
The environmental graphics program features three main components: three “Alma Habits of Character” walls to illustrate the school’s belief that character and academics are inextricably intertwined; a portrait to honor the campus’s namesake Frederick Douglass; and an organized gallery system for displaying student artwork and school events.
For the Alma Habit walls—Service, Responsibility, and Consideration—we identified locations in a well-traveled secondary staircase for the graphics. Each graphic integrates definitions of one Habit in the student population’s first languages: Spanish, Portuguese, or English, and combines them with speech bubbles containing companion statements such as “I take responsibility for my learning.” Students immediately responded with excitement to the designs and now use the graphics to teach their classmates about their native languages.
Frederick Douglass—an influential speaker, writer, and leader—was one of the most photographed individuals of his time, purposefully captured throughout his life to ensure his skin color was documented. He is now a man as famous for his words as for his image. This inspired us to incorporate his writings into a custom, illustrated portrait aligning Douglass’s legacy with the school’s aspirational culture. The portrait provides students a point of pride and special connection to this powerful, historic figure.
To enliven the “white space” present within the hallways, community space, and library, we created an organizational system of frames backed with a pin-able surface. These installations accommodate changeable artwork as well as information on school events and highlights to foster engagement and connection. Their colors coordinate with the building’s interiors.
Additional scope items include exterior dimensional entry signage at the front doors, a monument entry sign at the street, and Donor Recognition plaques. Created alongside the architecture, the graphics appear harmonious and intentional for Alma del Mar. Each installation is infused with layers of meaning specific to the school’s culture and its ambitious programs.