Established in 1990, the Heinz Architectural Center investigates the impact of built environments on people’s lives. Ranging from the late 18th century to present, HAC’s nearly 6,000-object collection, including drawings, models, artifacts, and the world’s third-largest collection of architectural casts, represents work by architects of international, national, and regional significance. HAC presents three exhibitions each year as well as summer architecture camps organized jointly by the Museum’s education department and the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture. Inaugurated in 2015, a new program called HACLab, “invites a team of design radicals to examine and present issues of architectural and planning importance to Pittsburgh and the region.”

Opportunity

For more than 20 years, the Heinz Architectural Center (HAC) has been an exemplary source of drawings, models, and knowledge about architecture in our region. And yet, as we met with HAC to plan its anniversary, we discovered that the local community was not fully aware of the Center and all it had to offer. We wanted to turn this discovery into an opportunity: to help HAC evolve its brand, establish powerful new messaging, and essentially reintroduce itself to Pittsburgh.

Solution

ThoughtForm began asking questions about HAC and its mission. We wanted to understand its engagement with the community, and more broadly, the community’s engagement with architecture. We asked HAC’s curators and staff to describe these relationships in real terms and give us examples. What emerged was not only a strong point of view for its 20th anniversary, but the foundation for a newly expressed brand that would carry HAC into the future.

As we approached our twentieth anniversary, ThoughtForm helped the Heinz Architectural Center focus on our key goals, in particular a better and evolving sense of how to engage with visitors. ThoughtForm’s attentive yet playful methodology allowed a range of voices and concerns to be heard and be incorporated into our thinking for the years ahead. Raymund Ryan‚ Curator of Architecture, Heinz Architectural Center

What did we do?
  • Hosted a kick-off Vision Catching session to plan an anniversary event and lay the groundwork for future change.
  • Helped design a 20th anniversary event that put HAC’s history, and future, in the spotlight.
  • On the heels of the anniversary, repackaged the HAC brand and helped them define their future.
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