As we approach year’s end, we reflect on one of the more memorable internal office projects of the year.

From May 19 to 21, Philadelphia was the site of the 2016 AIA Convention. With many architects in town – some former Ballinger employees – Ballinger decided to host an Alumni Reception at our expansive studio at 833 Chestnut Street.

In preparation for the reception, we designed and installed a Timeline Wall down the middle of the office’s loft space. It is a celebration of our rich 125+ year-old heritage with particular emphasis on 1990 to today – when there has been a transformation in the design quality of our portfolio.

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Architects like to bring order to the world and the Timeline Wall became a system for organizing Ballinger’s history and evolving design portfolio. To create it we conducted historical and archival research, drawing on the firm’s earliest industrial buildings and innovations. We then polled our 10 principals for projects to consider from the 1990s to today, striking a balance of our academic, healthcare and corporate portfolio. While the timeline format is rigorous, the design challenge was to make the display engaging, not didactic. The Timeline Wall doesn’t force an observer through a linear passageway, it is approachable from any direction, without a start or finish line.

Our in-house reproduction team printed the Timeline Wall graphics in large format rolls of vinyl that wrapped a series of six-foot high and 20-foot wide partitions; seven partitions in total. We bookended each partition with a clearly marked demi-decade – a Dewey Decimal Classification System to navigate the timeline. Featured are the design projects that anchored the office for each demi-decade.

Ballinger project images from the past 25 years were highlighted in slideshows displayed on workstation monitors and via three small “pod exhibits” containing models and sketches. These displays were also located according to the demi-decade system and a detailed directory allowed visitors to pinpoint the location of individual project images.  Upon arrival at the reception, alumni could quickly find the demi-decade(s) they were at Ballinger, see projects they worked on, and mingle with former colleagues from the same era.

The Alumni Reception reconnected current and former colleagues and the Timeline Wall was a conversation piece and backdrop to the festivities. Thank you to the extended Ballinger community for joining us in Philadelphia.

The Timeline Wall was recognized by the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Philadelphia Chapter at their annual “Philly’s Phinest” Marketing Communication Awards. Ballinger was awarded First Place in the Special Event category and received the People’s Choice Award for the Timeline Wall.

The Timeline Wall also inspired a digital extension of its content.