Grafik Intervention: Sparking Urban Revitalization Efforts Through Graphic Design

Brit Rowe
Associate Professor of Art & Design
Department of Art & Design
Ohio Northern University

How can graphic designers use their skills and knowledge to draw attention to—and invoke a solution to—the problem of urban decay? How can they take responsibility and help rehabilitate those wounded environments?

Buildings that sit vacant for one or more years can become eyesores in any community and even bring down the value of properties surrounding them. In some situations, it is too costly to rehabilitate these spaces, causing developers to avoid them and leaving them susceptible to blight. This presentation discusses how students in a senior level graphic design course designed a Grafik Intervention to bring awareness to an underutilized building and to inspire community members to consider the potential the building held.

The Grafik Intervention is an open source project that identifies a site based on its underutilized urban space and potential for revitalization. The building is carefully selected based on its notable history and location. Along with the digital projections during the event, an historical exhibit was created to emphasize the significance of the building. The goal was to engage the public through visually dynamic and compelling communication methods. The projections were created to provide historical information in an urban context on the building after dark. Through the use of projected visuals and real-time discussions, printed questionnaires were used to elicit information from the general public as they walked or drove by the case study building.