Fundraising evolves, and turbulent times for nonprofits continue. How can vital campaigns engage key audiences? One provocative solution is to rethink how donor recognition systems are designed. Our fresh take: the ambitious new sculptural strategy for recognizing donors, and commemorating scientific prize winners, at The Rockefeller University.

For The Rockefeller University, design engineering needs to be as ambitious and forward-looking as the research for which the University is known. This project comprises two sculptural hemispheres at a heroic scale, made of hundreds of steel parts, set in complex curves. One recognizes donors, one recognizes prize winners. They base their geometries on a geodesic dome, echoing the exterior of the University auditorium in which the prize wall and donor recognition are located. The room itself is also renovated, making it a formal entry hall for the auditorium.

[For more on this, and other strategies for nonprofit audience engagement, reach out to us here.]

The steel forms of the prize wall are finished in a luxurious brushed finish, and hold names, accomplishments and hand-drawn portraits of each scientist. The University is home to a constantly growing list of winners of Nobel, Lasker and other prestigious scientific prizes.

On both walls, face triangles are all the same size to facilitate interchangeability. But the structural triangles of the complex support systems had to be engineered with no two dimensions the same (the requirements of a classic geodesic dome). Constant differences of thousandths of an inch required intensive computer modeling and production.

The system is entirely magnetic, but doesn’t look it, allowing updates (for prize recipients) and moving plaques to new positions (for donors). Plaques are brought to life with direct-to-media printing, with the addition of a special curing agent to make ink bond with stainless steel, which otherwise would reject it.

Scientific prize plaques each host a custom illustration of a prize-winning Rockefeller scientist, done in engraving-style dot portraits by Wall Street Journal “hedcut” artists.

On the donor recognition wall, real biomedical research images turned into abstract art can be found close up on all of the donor plaques.

The project continues our longstanding relationship with The Rockefeller University. In addition to this project in donor recognition and prize commemoration, C&G Partners has created work for the organization ranging from brand identity and print to websites and digital installations.

[For more on this, and other strategies for nonprofit audience engagement, reach out to us here.]