King’s College London is among the world’s top universities. But in a world city of landmark buildings remarkable for their history, architecture or function the whereabouts of King’s College London is largely unknown unless you are part of the university community. Most people would be hard pressed to say where it is.
There are in fact 5 campuses north and south of the river. Just one of the campuses, The Strand campus, has five buildings including the ex-BBC headquarters Bush House on Aldwych and the neo gothic Maughan Library on Chancery Lane. We were asked to make the main entrance to The Strand campus more visible.
The King’s College London Strand building is a not particularly lovely 1972 concrete slab construction. Although to be fair lovers of concrete do love it. It’s easy to walk past the recessed gates to the campus and the doors to reception thinking it might be just another office building.
Our key insight into how to solve the problem of street level presence was to look at how much presence it actually had. It’s substantial: the building runs for 90m along the pavement. We looked at this and the windows that run along the whole 90m stretch and saw the opportunity.
Universities achieve their reputation by the people who come out of them and the impact they have on whatever field they’re in. They maintain their reputation by attracting the best students who want to benefit from the great minds they’ll find there. What better way to remind passers-by of what they’re passing than by showing the remarkable people who were and are part of the King’s community.
Once the idea of a timeline of notable alumni interspersed with current students was conceived the challenge was measurement, manufacture and installation of 217 different sized artworks.
It was exacting work that required precision and attention to every detail. You could call it an installation as much as signage. It was intended to be temporary, but it’s lasted 7 years because it was specified and managed diligently.
We delivered beyond the brief and under budget. Our client was delighted. ‘Clear, authoritative management conducted with patience and geniality’.