Located at the heart of campus, the Texas A&M Innovative Learning Classroom Building defines a new immersive experience that blurs the line between tradition and innovation. Bora’s experiential graphic design (EGD) team created a series of installations that honor a history of academic excellence, while infusing the modern teaching and learning space with the rich traditions that make up Texas A&M’s Aggie culture.
Looking to the Past to Inspire the Future
Finding the right stories to reflect in a new building often starts with digging into the history of an institution. After spending time at the vast Texas A&M archives, we were able to uncover elements of the University’s past that offered rich storytelling opportunities. This time in the archive led us to a key guiding principle for this project: Even in the early days, Aggies had their eyes on tomorrow.
Honoring the Site through Salvaged Material
The Innovative Learning Classroom Building was built on the site once known as The Grove, a popular outdoor student gathering place. With The Grove torn down in 2003 to accommodate a growing student body, and its history increasingly unfamiliar to newer students, our EGD team sought to honor this special part of TAMU history through a tactile art display. The resulting Grove Wall is crafted of CNC-routed oak from trees salvaged from the famous site. The salvaged wood provided the perfect backdrop to display a typographic “calendar” of the social events that had kept Aggies immersed in school spirit for over 60 years.
Modern Symbols Reflecting Traditional Colleges
Bora’s EGD team designed 17 colorful gonfalon prints, visible from the quad upon entry, as modern representations of the traditional gonfalon flags of each of the University’s 17 colleges. Whereas the traditional gonfalons were only brought out annually on graduation day, these symbols now prominently line the ground-floor concrete classroom drum at the building’s entry.
In this process Bora set out to remedy the inconsistencies in style, color palette, and voice present across the original flags—the result of each college having created its own initial design. Through refined artwork, we elevated each flag’s significance, centering the historical meaning of its elements while bringing cohesion and a modern aesthetic. The overall color palette was simplified from a chaotic 75 colors to 26—all while maintaining a unique color for each college based on traditional academic regalia. The resulting 4’ x 6’ prints infuse the architecture’s neutral and textural palette with warmth and vibrancy, with coordinating plaques showcasing the meaning of each piece in a clear, cohesive voice. Now featured prominently in the building’s entry for all to see, these gonfalons—once scarcely seen and hardly understood—are perfect for sharing academic Aggie pride on social media.
The guiding design principle we uncovered in the Texas A&M archives not only led us down our design path that mixes modern interpretations of traditional elements, but we also featured it boldly on the wall in dimensional letters at the entrance. This prominent placement reminds students and faculty of the long history that has always led Texas A&M to a bright future.