We're Studio SC, an environmental graphic design firm based in Seattle.
In our work, we love to create dialogues between people and their environments, through everything from signage and graphics to print and identity. We hope to create dialogues here too, by sharing things that inspire us, cool industry news, and our projects.
You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The Westin Building Exchange

The Westin Building Exchange (WBX) has undergone a transformation: a new name, new website and now, new building graphics. Studio SC designed a comprehensive environmental graphics program that reinforces the progressive approach of the WBX management team and visually asserts their position as a leader in colocation real estate.

WBX provides high-performance, customizable, and attractive data storage units that are vital to the efficiency and security of telecommunications and internet carriers. It was important that the graphics reflect the quality of their services while distinctively expressing the confidence and expertise of the company.

Building signage displays navigational information on articulated panels. The clean, exact edges and smooth surfaces of the signage reflect the polished and precise look of the technological systems housed within the building. Further enhancing the look are linear wall graphics — inspired by digital coding and information streaming — installed at the entries to colocation suites and other key identification and directional locations. Additionally, all colors in the program correspond with the new brand palette to unify the company’s web presence and physical space.

The new graphics program expresses the company’s welcoming and confident management style while easing building navigation. Equipped with a strong brand presence WBX has an edge in the fast-growing market of data storage.

  • Posted 1 month ago
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Pacific Avenue Wayfinding 2.0

The City of Tacoma is brimming with industrial allure and quirky Pacific Northwest history. From its wealth of “ghost signage” on historic brick buildings, to the network of bridges and waterways, and finally, the unique landscape created by Puget Sound and Mount Rainier, the city has a visual identity that is entirely “Tacoma.”

As a compliment to the downtown wayfinding program, we designed a concept for a mobile site that showcases additional anecdotes, images and slideshows, video content, maps and more about the very spot each sign is located. After diving into the history of the city while developing the downtown project, our team was compelled to take the connection between people and their environment further. The digital extension enables pedestrians to learn more about Tacoma’s fascinating past while enhancing their experience through present-day downtown. Implementation could be as simple as printing a QR Code alongside the pedestrian level information on the body of each sign. Users scan the code with their mobile device to access the additional content and explore the other sign locations as well.

A versatile component of the mobile site is a 360º view of each sign location. The panorama highlights historic buildings and landmarks in addition to calling out places of interest including restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions by pulling data from Internet listings of nearby retail, restaurants, and attractions. This feature encourages pedestrians to interact with local businesses and has the potential to become a revenue generator if advertising space is incorporated into the mobile site.

Our aim was to create a cutting-edge yet realistic opportunity to showcase the city’ s fascinating history, promote local businesses, and expand the story of Tacoma. Watch the video presentation above and let us know what you think in the comments.

  • Posted 2 months ago
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May Your Holidays Be Merry and Bright

Studio SC wishes you a merry and bright holiday season!

We spent a freezing-yet-fun evening on Seattle’s Pier 63 taking long exposure photographs of our team creating this year’s holiday message. We then compiled over 50 photographs to make some movie magic!

Watch our special 2013 holiday message light up in the video above.

Happy Holidays!

  • Posted 4 months ago
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2013 Landmark Series: The Eagle

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[This is the final installment of our 2013 New Year’s Resolution to reacquaint ourselves with Seattle’s great icons. Download the calendar and join the conversation! Check out November’s landmark, “Space Needle”, and come back soon for the latest news at Studio SC!]

Poised to take flight over Puget Sound is, The Eagle, a dynamic, 39-foot tall, monumental sculpture by artist Alexander Calder. Created at the pinnacle of Calder’s career, the bright red, steel construction points upward and outward in an expression of momentum. Like our city, The Eagle is a balance of power and lightness; it’s a strong form that is also playful, exuberant, and works harmoniously with its surroundings.

Having traveled cross-country as a young man, the Pennsylvania-born Calder experienced a transformation in the Pacific Northwest. While working for a logging camp in Independence, WA, Calder was so inspired by the landscape he wrote to his mother requesting paints and brushes. It was during his time in our region that he decided to pursue art as his vocation!

Originally commissioned for the Fort Worth National Bank in 1971, The Eagle was acquired in 2000 for the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park (the Olympic Sculpture Park opened in 2007). Calder is perhaps the best-known American sculptor to date and the procurement of a large-scale work by an artist of his caliber is significant for the city as it helps to establish Seattle as a major metropolitan cultural center.

The Eagle is dramatically set in the foreground of a vast outlook across Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains. It’s bold form and strong color are in perfect balance to the natural blues and purples of the scenery. It punctuates the physical beauty of the region. 

Although it was designed for an entirely different environment, the forms found in The Eagle are cut, carved and shaped for this place.

View The Eagle at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, which is free and open to the public every day, 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

  • Posted 4 months ago
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2013 Landmark Series: The Space Needle

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[This is part of our ongoing New Year’s Resolution to reacquaint ourselves with Seattle’s great icons. Download the calendar and join the conversation! Check out October’s landmark, “A Sound Garden”, and come back in December for a look at Calder’s, “Eagle”.]

The Space Cage. The 400-Day Wonder. Both are pseudonyms for the iconic Space Needle; a 605 foot tall structure that defines the Seattle skyline and welcomes over 1 million visitors every year to enjoy views of the Cascades, Olympics, Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier, and the city itself. The Space Needle is not only THE official Seattle landmark, it is the number 1 tourist attraction in Washington State and remains a symbol of Seattle’s forward-thinking community more than 50 years after it’s initial construction.

The Space Needle was built as an architectural centerpiece for the 1962 World’s Fair, appropriately themed Century 21 in an era dominated by headlines of the Space Race. Looking back, 1962 was a pivotal year for Seattle and its spirit of ingenuity continues to inspire. When it was first constructed, the Needle was the tallest building west of the Mississippi river and truly was an innovation that set a new standard for World’s Fair legacy structures. It also changed the international opinion of Seattle from a blue-collar port city to a modern metropolis.

It’s form inspired by the world’s first telecommunications tower in Stuttgart, Germany, the sinuous Space Needle is built to withstand an earthquake magnitude of over a 9 on the Richter scale and winds up to 200mph, in other words, it can withstand a category 5 hurricane. That is twice the building code requirements in 1962, a testament to the future-oriented attitude of the original design team.

In keeping with the Century 21 theme, the Needle was painted Astronaut White for the tower, Orbital Olive for the core, Re-Entry Red for the halo, and Galaxy Gold for the roof. Galaxy Gold made a 6-month reappearance on the roof of the Needle in honor of the 50th anniversary in 2012. During the anniversary, the Seattle Center’s Next Fifty Festival engaged Seattleites in discussions about our near future: sustainable resources, science and technology.  

Often referred to as the “logo” of Seattle, a vital function of the Space Needle is that of cultural center. Located just outside of the downtown retail core, and adjacent to the emerging biotechnology hub in South Lake Union, our Space Needle presides over the Seattle Center’s attractions including the Science Fiction Museum and Pacific Science Center. It hosts the city’s annual New Year fireworks display, and even the occasional alien. It’s a tangible expression of our community’s progressive style and eccentric charm.

Photo: Chewbacca7, via flickr

  • Posted 4 months ago
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Allen Institute Environmental Graphics

As part of our concept development for a new project, our team is diving into a complex subject: the human brain.

Studio SC is designing an environmental graphics program for the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a non-profit medical research organization dedicated to accelerating the understanding of how the brain functions in health and disease, which is moving to a new headquarters in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. Situated squarely in the city’s hub for life sciences, the new facility will house all research teams and technology, including custom designed robots and computing systems able to process petabytes of data, under one roof for the first time.

An exciting element of the graphics program is an exterior media wall that will span the corner of 9th Street and Broad Street. Beneath a glass canopy, the 180’ wall extends a unique opportunity for the public to interact with the truly mind-blowing research happening within the building.

For the media wall, we’re exploring the development of neuron patterns with symbols including: arrows, letters, and binary code. Multiple layers of graphics will be utilized to mimic the complexity of neurological system. By focusing on the anatomy of the brain, which is unchanging, the installation will continue to be relevant even as research and scientific development demystify how the brain works. Incorporating lo-tech LED lighting and color applications, with display settings for both daylight and night conditions, is our next step.  

Continue with us in our discoveries and check back for updates on the Allen Institute project!

www.perkinswill.com

  • Posted 5 months ago
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  • Tagged with: Allen InstituteEGDenvironmental graphic designSouth Lake Unionseattle
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2013 Landmark Series: A Sound Garden

[This is part of our ongoing New Year’s Resolution to reacquaint ourselves with Seattle’s great icons. Download the calendar and join the conversation! Check out September’s landmark, “Hat ‘n’ Boots”, and come back in November for a look at the Space Needle.]

Created as part of a public art walk for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Western Service Center in Seattle, WA, Doug Hollis’ sound sculpture, A Sound Garden, has inspired Seattleites for three decades.

On a wave-like outcropping of wetland, Hollis’ installed steel towers with wind-actuated pipe organs overlooking Lake Washington. Walking the 300’ long path of pyramid shaped brick and gravel that winds through a copse of steel towers is a transformative experience that enhances our connection to nature. Wind, even a subtle breeze, flows through the pipes and arranges an ever-changing symphony that captures and translates the natural phenomena of air currents. A journey through this sound sculpture invites introspection and extends grace to the sojourner. 

A Sound Garden was a pivotal project for Hollis as it was the first sculpture meant to be a permanent installation; a work of art intended to gain meaning as time goes. The piece has certainly fulfilled that original intent – it’s one of a handful of pieces of public art that has genuinely shaped the Seattle community. It’s a hidden treasure that rewards everyone who takes the time to seek it out.

The installation remains a favorite attraction on NOAA’s art walk and can be credited with many creative influences. The popular band, Soundgarden, even took its name from Hollis’ famous artwork. To experience, A Sound Garden, in person — something we highly recommend doing — head over to Warren G. Magnuson Park any weekday between 9am-5pm and check it out. Just make sure to bring I.D. as the installation is on restricted land. For more details visit http://www.wrc.noaa.gov/

  • Posted 5 months ago
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Washington State Convention Center 

We’re updating the exterior signage for the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle and spent an afternoon at CRĒO Industrial Arts for a review of the new, illuminated sign prototypes. The signs looked fantastic and our client was thrilled with the huge scale of the signage! The sign pictured measures just over 12 feet tall and will be mounted above I-5 on Pike Street. 

Several key locations will feature the updated logo in addition to new applications designed to enhance the Convention Center’s street presence. To express the contours of the logo, a gradient graphic printed on translucent film is laminated to a piece of acrylic. The signs are internally illuminated with LED bulbs utilizing both backlit and halo illumination.

Look for the new signs to be fully installed this Thanksgiving holiday!

  • Posted 6 months ago
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Re-energizing 1800 Ninth

When Talon Properties acquired the 1800 9th building in downtown Seattle, occupancy was low providing an opportunity for repositioning the building. Studio SC worked with LMN Architects to bring a new identity to the building and give it a clean, modern look.

Blackened steel, new colors, and refreshed workspaces are now incorporated throughout the building and key architectural elements are integrated into the signage. The building’s new visual language is established by a glowing, sculpted building logo framed by blackened steel installed on the entrance canopy. The building identity creates a highly visible, graphic street presence.

While the canopy logo identifies the main entrance, many tenants and visitors enter 1800 Ninth through the parking garage, making it another key location for communicating the building’s identity. Clearly perceived by its luminous “P” symbol, the parking garage entrance sign guides drivers inside where each parking level showcases fresh, inviting colors and patterns graphically related to the architecture of the main lobby. The attractive garage interior and clearly identified elevator lobbies provide a welcoming presence.

Main lobby and upper floor graphics are integrated with the new architecture and reinforce the clean, modern identity of the space while providing clear wayfinding and flexibility for updating. The design connects people to their environment while visually expressing the organized, caring, and well-managed approach of the new building owners.

www.1800ninth.com

  • Posted 6 months ago
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2013 Landmark Series: Hat ‘n’ Boots

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Seattle’s Well-Heeled Roadside Attraction

[This is part of our ongoing New Year’s Resolution to reacquaint ourselves with Seattle’s great icons. Download the calendar and join the conversation! Check out July’s landmark, the Rainier “R”, and come back in October for a look at “A Sound Garden”.]

In December 2003, the largest hat and cowboy boots in America, also known as Hat ‘n’ Boots, were rescued from over a decade of neglect through the effort of a small Seattle neighborhood community. 

Originally created for a Western-themed gas station on Highway 99 in 1954, the hat housed an office while the boots were restrooms, labeled “cowgirls” and “cowboys” respectively. When the station closed in 1988, Hat ‘n’ Boots were left to weather years of decay and vandalism.

A band of community members in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle purchased Hat ’n’ Boots for $1.00 and raised funds for its restoration. With the support secured from historical societies, cultural organizations, local corporations and neighborhood associations, Hat ‘n’ Boots have been repaired, repainted, and relocated to their current home at Oxbow Park where everyone can enjoy them.

Hat ‘n’ Boots’ may not be the embodiment typical Seattle style or architecture, nonetheless the roadside attraction has rooted itself in the collective sentiment of our city in a powerful way. “‘The Hat n’ Boots is as important to Georgetown as the Golden Gate Bridge is to San Francisco,’ says Allan Phillips, former director of the Georgetown Community Council. ‘If the Hat ‘n’ Boots were ever to be gone from Georgetown, it would be like losing our soul’”.

  • Posted 6 months ago
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2013 Landmark Series: Seattle Public Library, Central Branch

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[This is part of our ongoing New Year’s Resolution to reacquaint ourselves with Seattle’s great icons. Download the calendar and join the conversation! Check out July’s landmark, the Rainier “R”, and come back in September for a look at “Hat N’ Boots” by Buford Seals.]

In a city where conservative liberals can enjoy vegan cupcakes with a side of bacon, dichotomies are part of every day life. Fittingly, when Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas of OMA revealed the radical new design for the Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library, Seattleites looked on the project with a mixture of excitement and horror that has since become pride.

In lieu of the historic style of Carnegie libraries, or Scandinavian aesthetics typical to Pacific Northwest architecture, Koolhaas and team decided to let the building function inform its shape and style. By focusing on attributes unique to Seattleites: a deep appreciation for nature, a hunger for natural light, a thirst for knowledge, and a voracious appetite for the latest technology, they created a space that was ultramodern and reflective of the community it serves… one-of-a-kind.

Peculiarly stacked trapezoids spread out over an entire city block in a downtown dominated by traditional rectangular buildings. Articulated overhangs peek out like flirtatious beckoning fingers while a transparent skin made of glass and steel diamond supports bewitch the uninitiated. The appearance begs the question “What is THAT building?”

Upon entering, visitors are immediately enlightened, “THIS is a LIBRARY!” From the 4th Avenue entrance, a neon-yellow escalator, typographic floor and exposed mechanics of the book return delights newcomers. Entering from 5th Avenue, the library captivates with an expansive 8-story atrium and an abundance of natural light. At the heart of the building is a stimulating, floor-to-ceiling red room. Further exploration of the labyrinth of literacy reveals four floors of spiraling nonfiction that contract and expand as trends change. A cathedral of light on the top floor welcomes study and introspection alongside views of the city, Mt Rainier, and Elliott Bay. Every element of the library provides a thrilling experience for newcomers, faithful patrons and librarians alike.

OMA’s temple of knowledge now makes the short list of every Things to See compilation in Seattle and welcomes over 7,000 people every day. The Central Branch encourages our community to think differently by offering a public space designed to break the mold. 

Photos courtesy of The Seattle Public Library.

  • Posted 7 months ago
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Macroscopic Graphics

At Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center 1100 Eastlake micro-cosmos become macro-cosmos in more ways than one. 

1100 Eastlake is home to the Virus and Infectious Disease Division (VIDD) – this team works to find cures for some of the deadliest diseases known to mankind including: Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis among others. The research accomplished here benefits the greater world population.

Our graphics reflect the impact of this relatively small group. It is expressed through representations of microscopic cells reinterpreted at human scale throughout the facility.

 A sheet of clear acrylic is fixed between two different cell patterns – the top layer is a translucent halftone and the back layer is opaque and rich in color. The acrylic edges absorb light and create shadows, movement and depth within each panel, simulating how cells interact on microscope slides. 

Signage organizes the building beyond simply pointing people in the correct direction; it calls out the different purposes of each room and corridor peripherally through the use of color. Two colors were chosen: red and white for contrast as well as the allusion to red and white blood cells. Red patterned signs appear on the outside of research labs and in the elevator lobbies at each level. White patterns indicate conference rooms, offices and other common areas.

The program has a synergy that is both stimulating and functional while honoring the significant work happening in this space.

  • Posted 8 months ago
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  • Tagged with: EGDfred hutchinson cancer research centerenvironmental graphic design
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Installation Begins 

Something exciting is happening in Tacoma, Washington! The first three of twenty-nine vehicular wayfinding signs we designed have been installed.

Our new signs, standing thirteen feet tall, lead visitors through downtown Tacoma to museums, the waterfront, parking, and other key destinations. Their height combined with high contrast graphics and four inch letter height allows drivers to see them from a distance of 40 yards. We used 3M™Premium Scotchlite reflective vinyl for the messages to ensure visibility in all conditions.

The signs are constructed out of 1/8 inch thick rolled aluminum in an “L” shape, with an almost 5 foot wide message panel extending from the break. The body of the sign is painted a deep bronze metallic color with an anti-graffiti acrylic polyurethane clear coat that will protect them from rain, wind, and UV rays. The addition of ¾” threaded thru bolts near the base provide additional structural support and complete the industrial aesthetic.

Embodying Tacoma’s industrial legacy of shipyards, paper mills, and ironworks, the exposed hardware and durable materials composing the signs reinforce the city infrastructure, guide people to their destinations, and establish a sense of place. 

The remaining 26 signs are scheduled for installation over the next two months. Next time you’re in Tacoma check out our signs and tell us what you think.

  • Posted 8 months ago
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2013 Landmark Series: Rainier Brewery “R”

image[This is part of our ongoing New Year’s Resolution to reacquaint ourselves with Seattle’s great icons. Download the calendar and join the conversation. Check out last month’s look at Noguchi’s Black Sun, and come back in August for a back-to-school story on the Seattle Central Library.]

The story of the iconic Rainier R began in Seattle over 130 years ago shortly after the brand’s inception. Several small breweries merged to become the largest brewery of its time west of the Mississippi. The brewery survived prohibition and the Great Depression but it wasn’t until 1933 when the Sick brothers bought the brewery that the brand became legendary.

Fritz Sick bought and renamed Seattle’s baseball team, the Rainiers, and built a stadium for games, concerts and events in which Rainier beer was famously served of course. He also expanded the brewery and installed a 12-foot, neon-red rotating R on the brewery’s roof. The R became a roadside beacon and before the Space Needle it was the hottest emblem of the Seattle skyline.

By the 1970s, between the entertainment at Sick’s Stadium and the goofy television advertising campaign by Terry Heckler, the brand R stood for more than beer. It acted as a host for Seattle, a cheerful welcome to the quirky metropolis. 

Pabst Brewery currently produces Rainier beer in California but the R is so powerful an icon that replicas continue to appear throughout the city. There is a neon R in virtually every neighborhood on storefronts, bars, even on a transportation maintenance facility. Western Neon restored the original R for a permanent exhibit at MOHAI and by popular demand, now makes custom R reproductions for collectors.

The story of the Rainier R is a story of how great typography in signage can rise above a single brand to become an extraordinary conduit for cultural memory. It’s a story of stamina, style, and creativity.  Keep an eye out for your chance to get a close look at the legendary letterform soon!

Photo courtesy of Western Neon

  • Posted 8 months ago
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  • Tagged with: 2013 Landmarks Series2013 landmark seriesseattleiconsNEONSigns
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Red Wall

Lobby Installation at USACE Federal Center South

Through our graphics program at USACE Federal Center South, the space is elevated from a well-designed building to a wellspring of inspiration and motivation for the people working there.  

The celebration of the Corps’ work is exhibited at the entry of the building through a USACE brand red, floor to ceiling wall installation of a topographic relief of a river carving its way across the lobby. The topographic design is constructed of layered acrylic with the deepest layer, representing the river basin, painted in high gloss to suggest the reflective quality of water.

Rainfall statistics, data about water pressure, volume, and hydro-power generation is collected from multiple sources across the region, filtered through the USACE control room, and displayed in real time on readerboards embedded in the river graphic.

Spanning the length of the wall is a steel c-channel bisecting the partition, as well as a steel base and frame. The incorporation of the material has two purposes: it continues the architectural language of the building and it alludes to strength — an important aspect of the Corps’ principles.

Reinforcing all of this is the Corps’ mission statement displayed in the c-channel:

We are a great engineering force of highly disciplined people working with our partners through disciplined thought and action to deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to the nation’s engineering challenges.

  • Posted 9 months ago
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