Overall Murals was selected to produce a large intricate ceiling mural, conceived by master graphic designer, Ruedi Baur, at the New School University Center at the corner of 14th Street and 5th Avenue in its downtown campus. The Overall Murals team of artisans painstakingly hand rendered Mr. Baur’s custom lettering, composed of groundbreaking subjects and luminary instructors of historic New School classes. The original balances the university’s newly constructed and impressive building, which has been described as “challenging the status quo” and proof of The New School’s “commitment to creativity, innovation and social engagement.”
Through its curriculum and advocacy of important architectural achievements such as this University Center, the New School upholds its reputation for housing innovative minds. Unlike many traditional colleges, the New School strays from the arbitrary in regards to its curriculum. Instead, this cutting edge institute allows its students the freedom to choose their own scholastic approach to education. Students are encouraged to “seek an unbiased understanding of the existing order, its genesis, growth and present working,” according to the precedents set by its founders. Interesting programs offered such as “Women and their Money,” taught by Dorcas Elizabeth Campbell in 1949, “Games: 101,” and “Punk and Noise,” are just a few of the hundreds of classes and instructors immortalized on the school’s foundation in an array of colors.
Mr. Baur’s design is based on the 3D font he created for the New School, based on Peter Bilak’s font, Irma. The font is used throughout the building as a wayfinding system, and as the foundation for the stairwell murals, which are visible from the sidewalks outside of the building. Designed by the New York office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the University Center was conceived as a sixteen story campus within a building. Vertical, horizontal, and diagonal campus pathways work together to facilitate movement through the building, and increase opportunities for spontaneous interactions. The system of stairways are the principle means of circulation, and a strong focal point both inside and outside the building.
Contrary to the perfect, modern black and white interior design and furnishings of the campus, the elaborate typography is as perfectly but imperfectly painted and composed of over 150 hand blended colors. Our artists practiced precise brushstrokes to create the crisp, vibrant typography over the course of several months on one stairway and four floors with while standing with their necks craned for ten hours or while laying down on lounge chairs and scaffolding. For comparison, a mural of this size typically requires our team approximately one-week of production. The original design coats three angled stairwells or 4,200 feet. (the Sistine Chapel, by comparison, covers 6,118 square feet.) At the project’s completion, we believe these laborious paintings enhanced the importance of their message and impose on the viewer everything that the New School advocates: fresh perspective.