A new look for the MITAA

“You can’t overestimate the contribution to the design of true legends like Muriel Cooper [MIT Press’s longtime design director and a cofounding faculty member of the Media Lab] and Jacqueline Casey [an Institute graphic designer who achieved renown for her posters]”- says Berut. “In the 1960s and ’70s, they helped define a visual language that not only conveyed the experience of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology so well, but also helped the world’ there ‘re-understand MIT.”

Cooper and Casey, proponents of the “Swiss-style” graphic design that emerged in the first half of the 20th century, played an important role in discovering typographic motifs that remain dominant today, including the ubiquitous Helvetica serif font. Developed by Max Middinger and Eduard Hoffmann at the Haas Type foundry, it was originally called Neue Haas Grotesk. Linotype Corporation licensed it and (with some nuances) renamed it in 1960.

“I would argue that any U.S. academic institutions – and perhaps outside academia – too, that use this style today, owe it to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which I believe owned Helvetica from the beginning,” Berut says. .

Along with the design process, Pentagram’s writing partner Andrea Jarrell has developed a kind of “manifesto” to provide language to accompany the brand.

“The MIT graduate is happily filled with paradoxes,” Jarrell says. “In one breath, they are excited to talk about their uneasy need for progress, about solving the most difficult problems to make the future brighter. And yet in the following they passionately talk about the history and traditions that shape their MIT-ness. To be true in both words and design, we needed to consider the joy and quirky enjoyment of the famous hackers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tim Beaver along with seriousness and respect for the achievements that are changing society. ”

Bierut and his team of designers, including Sachi Chandiramani, realized that this dichotomy is a major part of the task. Their eyes turned to the campus – in particular, to the Endless Corridor, which connects the buildings of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology between Kendall Square and Massachusetts Avenue. There they found the quiet but important work of the signpost Glen Silva, who for decades had manually created the names of departments and faculty at the door in the hallway. At the beginning of his work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Silva shared responsibility with the late Gifford Hudson.

Silva’s serif style has visual connections to other parts of the Institute’s history, including warmed inscriptions adorning the exteriors of the “Main Group” of the original Beaux Arts buildings, which date back to the Institute’s 1916 move from Boston to Cambridge. Birut also learned that font designer Tim Ripper was developing a digital font based on inscriptions on the doors of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; in fact, he called it a corridor.

143,000 graduates, one design

When Jarrell wrote a manifesto on the experiences of MIT graduates, highlighting its many themes, designers sought the only way forward in terms of creating a visual identity. While the manifesto will be used behind the scenes as a guide to express the spirit of the alumni community, elements of graphic branding will be seen by all. The association knew that doing so was very important.

One of the main recommendations was that the logo developed by the group should focus on the idea of ​​“MIT Alumni” and not on the MIT Alumni Association as an organization. This would ensure that the alumni community feels that the mark represents them – nearly 143,000 alumni of the Institute. In this concept, “MIT Alumni” is a visual brand, and the MIT Alumni Association helps facilitate the alumni experience, as it has done since its inception in 1875 with the mission of enhancing the well-being of the Institute and its alumni by increasing members ’interest in school and one to one ”.

To make sure the design with the greatest resonance was chosen, Pentagram and staff approached the MIT Alumni Association Board of Directors as representatives of the wider alumni community. In March 2020, Berut attended a quarterly board meeting on campus to propose three directions for the design of the new logo developed by his team. Two were strongly inclined to the camp, inspired by Helvetica, and the third was based on the approach to the Corridor.

After hearing feedback from volunteer leaders that each font can resonate strongly in the community for a variety of reasons, Pentagram has developed a concept that would allow both to be used. A new brand would two official fonts, Neue Haas Grotesk (in its original form) and Corridor GG, which the Association has officially and exclusively licensed as a digital font, with “GG” honoring the letters Silva and Hudson. The first will be used as a font for the new “MIT Alumni” sign, and the second can be deployed as a display font to convey key messages in the design.

“What Pentagram has shown us is a design path that has allowed us to integrate both fonts, both aspects of our community,” says Espich. “Our graduates and graduates have a deep history of contribution to society, but are also futurists. They are based on technical excellence and pragmatism, and always strive for new knowledge and new understanding. There is no single way to identify them. With this new distinction, we seem to have found a solution. ”

When Berut returned to present the new concept to the board of the MIT Alumni Association during a meeting in December 2020, she received great support. Subsequent presentations to smaller groups of MIT volunteers and Institute stakeholders further confirmed the warm welcome. The new visual identity, consisting of two fonts as well as an updated color palette, officially debuted during the MIT Alumni Conference in 2021 with a new video for alumni.

“I like to think that our new sign is more than an exciting logo with beautiful fonts and color choices, and that’s history,” says Association President Analisa Weigel ’94, ’95, SM ’00, PhD ’02. “It tells the world who we are as MIT graduates. For this to be successful, graduates need to resonate with this story. Based on the smiles and nods of recognition I saw on the faces of graduates of all ages and stages, I think the new brand tells our story very well. ”


Notice of proposed changes to the MIT Alumni Association governing document

The MITAA Board of Directors unanimously approves the amendments

In accordance with Article XI (“Amendments”) b Charter and Charter MIT Alumni Association (“Constitution”), reported on the proposed amendments to the Constitution. These amendments, proposed after in-depth consideration by the Special Steering Committee, will make the Constitution clearer and more in line with the current MITAA operating structure.

Changes and summaries can be found at http://alum.mit.edu/constitutionamendment. The constitution includes a mechanism for graduates to consider changes before they are implemented, or for a collective petition to require a full vote of graduates.

Members of the Special Steering Committee are Stephen DeFalco ’83, SM ’88 (Chairman), Elaine Harris ’78, Kevin Prisbotski ’86, SM ’87, Ramon San Pedro ’86, SM ’88, Analis Weigel ’94, , 95, SM ’00, PhD ’02 (ex officio) and Whitney T. Espich (ex officio).

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