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Convent of the Sacred Heart, established in 1881, is the oldest independent school for girls in New York City. As part of the Society of the Sacred Heart, a worldwide network of over 150 schools dedicated to the education of girls and young women, Convent of the Sacred Heart is committed to addressing the intellectual, spiritual, social, and emotional development of its students. Originally situated in a Madison Avenue brownstone, the School moved into the Otto Kahn Mansion on East 91st Street in the 1930s and expanded into the adjacent James Burden Mansion in the 1940s. The School currently has an enrollment of 670 students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The School purchased 406 East 91st Street to serve as their state-of-the-art Athletics and Wellness Center. At 53,000 square feet, the Center features a regulation-size basketball and volleyball court; a competition-size, 6-lane swimming pool; and a “wellness” floor consisting of a dance studio, weight room, and multiple practice rooms.
The School commissioned Poulin + Morris to develop a bold and energetic branding and environmental graphics program for the new facility.
The designers created graphics that promote school spirit by focusing on students and the athletic activities in which they excel. They directed photography shoots using stroboscopic visual effects to create life-size, color murals depicting some of the School’s top athletes of varying ages and grade levels, dressed in their red team uniforms, performing their areas of practice. The stroboscopic photography accentuates the sequence of their motions frame by frame as they enact movements from basketball, dance, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball, and yoga, giving the murals a sense of vitality and action. Located on 5 floors of the building, each mural includes large-scale typography—words that represent one of the School’s core values—“dream,” “drive,” “focus,” “live,” “power,” “reach,” “strive,” and “success.” The dynamic photographs of the student athletes appear to interact with the words, creating empowering imagery that is meant to inspire not only Sacred Heart students, but all who visit the building.
Additional murals were created for the Center’s main circulation stairwell, displaying motivational words (i. e. “strive,” “win,” “lead”) in large-scale typography that continuously span the 5 levels of the building. Situated in front of each stair landing, the murals playfully emulate strategy diagrams by featuring x’s, o’s, and arrows typically used in outlining sports plays.
An inspiring and empowering branding and environmental graphics program was created for Convent of the Sacred Heart’s Athletics and Wellness Center. The firm has continued to work with Convent of the Sacred Heart in developing a comprehensive base building sign and donor recognition program for the Athletics and Wellness Center.