Columbia University is currently partnering with Brooklyn United for the launch of a major, new 17-acre campus designed to reinvent higher education for the coming century. Our engagement spans brand identity development, website design, video production and content creation.
To initiate its new Manhattanville expansion, Columbia University has carefully navigated relationships with a diverse set of stakeholders ranging from community and civic leaders to donors, alumni and students. The website needed to orient visitors to the purpose, plan and intent of the new campus as well as respond efficiently and effectively to the distinct expectations and needs of each audience group.
Major initiatives have a long launch window, especially in cases where buildings open over successive years and institutional rhythms of fund-raising and enrollment are cyclical. To build a platform capable of delivering nuanced communications over several years, we drew on primary user and comparative research as well as our years of experience within education, architecture and cultural arenas to carefully balance brand and technical agendas.
First, we crafted the new, overarching brand strategy for the expansion — this flexed against Columbia's overarching brand without pushing it too far. Also key was creating a scalable template and brand guideline system to empower the university’s internal teams to produce on-target, on-brand content. Our design is fully modular and internal users can literally drag and drop modules to design custom layouts. The information architecture of the site intends to serve Columbia's disparate audiences. For example, the homepage prioritizes community benefits, which are followed by new content appearing lower on the page.
The website introduces Columbia's expansion to both the academic community and New York City at large. The university is prepared to connect with audiences both online and off, and to invite celebration, promotion and conversation around the new campus and the benefits it will make possible.