URBANbuild local global Book Collaboration Named on AIGA's 50 Books List

Last year Architecture Director Ila Berman and associate professor Mona El Khafif worked with Graphic Design associate professor Bob Aufuldish to design their book URBANbuild local global. The result? It was honored in the 2010 “AIGA’s 50 Books / 50 Covers” competition, which chronicles the year's most outstanding book-design solutions—inside and out.

The competition recognizes two distinct design considerations: design as it relates to the book in its entirety; and just the book cover itself. URBANbuild local global has been honored for its overall design, and as such excerpts of the book will reside in a permanent and accessible historical record of notable graphic design—the AIGA Design Archive—and tour as part of an international exhibition.

URBANbuild local global (William Stout 2009) documents the work of URBANbuild—a comprehensive two-year program at Tulane University School of Architecture, initiated by Ila Berman to be a unique multiscaled laboratory for city research and a vehicle to generate innovative architectural strategies to actively support the rehabilitation of New Orleans following its devastating destruction in 2005.

The challenge the authors and designer faced was to create a design that communicated its larger architectural and urban intentions in a compelling way for many different types of readers.

Said Berman: “[We] wanted this to be a great work of graphic design that was also conceptual and highly spatial. As architects we tend to think of books as designed objects—“things” that have an important physical presence. The intention was to create a double-sided book that would be structured architecturally—as a topological surface that would refer to the continuity between the local side of the book that looks inward toward the city of New Orleans, and the global side of the book that looks outward toward a larger global context.

"This emerged from the desire to reconnect local research, analysis, and design with a broader framework, drawing from the experience of comparable world cities and to have this reflected in the design of the book itself.”

To accomplish their goals, Berman and El Khafif enlisted the graphic design expertise of CCA’s Bob Aufuldish, also a partner in the design firm Aufuldish & Warinner, whose work is in good company in the AIGA Design Archive—his own! With no fewer than six awarded books in the “AIGA 50 Books” competition in the last 10 years, Aufuldish is a celebrated veteran book designer.

(Look for Aufuldish’s design expertise on the following exhibition catalogs: Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection at SFMOMA; and two for the deYoung’s—Birth of Impressionism, and Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne and Beyond, each from the Musée d’Orsay.)

Berman, El Khafif, and Aufuldish each played vital roles in the graphic design of URBANbuild local global; Berman and El Khafif designed the overall structure and design of the contents of the book and the layout of all of the graphic pages, including the spatial and graphic components of the cover.

Aufuldish designed the cover text, including suggesting its fabric/material and the textual inlay. He also did all of the typography, designed all the text pieces for the book, and implemented the final navigator that enables the book to be read nonsequentially (conceived by Berman and El Khafif). He also managed the production cycle. He asserts, “. . . the project was highly collaborative. And the better for it.”

Coupled with the enviable nod AIGA gave the book, URBANbuild local global also reflects the college’s goal to increase the number of projects that are truly interdisciplinary. This particular project epitomizes CCA’s commitment that ours is a community that can nurture independence or interdependence, or both.

Berman and El Khafif describe themselves as “lovers of design—where the design of the book should be as important as its content.” Berman also confided, “I think the overlay of Graphic Design and Architecture produced a phenomenal result. We always tend to love each others' disciplines as much as our own.”

So after “careful and considered review of more than 800 entries,” jury members of the AIGA “50 Books / 50 Covers” competition selected URBANbuild local global in the image-driven books category (Architecture, design, and photography titles) for its outstanding book and book-cover design in 2009.

The competition serves to celebrate and preserve graphic design. According to the AIGA: “To assure that selections become a part of a permanent accessible historical record of notable graphic design—the AIGA Design Archives—each piece is published online with traditional credit information and is published in the AIGA annual 365: AIGA Year in Design.”

One set of the physical artifacts becomes part of the AIGA Design Archives, which is currently housed at the Denver Art Museum, and a second set becomes part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts collection at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library within Columbia University’s Butler Library.

Additionally, selections in the 2010 “AIGA 50 Books / 50 Covers” competition will be displayed as a public exhibition scheduled to open at the AIGA National Design Center in New York in 2010. Afterward, the exhibition will travel to the various AIGA chapters throughout the United States, as well as to student groups and galleries, and then on to China in 2011.

In the official AIGA award notification letter, it states: “AIGA is committed to finding the most effective means of bringing your work to the attention of designers and others for whom this piece is an exemplar of the craft and effect of good design. We are proud to be able to publish your work in this context.”

And we are proud to have faculty members who are representing CCA with such exemplary skills.

Visit URBANbuild to learn more this project, including watching From the Ground Up, a documentary presented by Tulane URBANbuild Central City, New Orleans (May 2007, concept: Mona El Khafif and David Salkin)

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