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SU’s Communications Design to exhibit model visitor’s center at Beaver Lake Nature Center
SU’s Communications Design to exhibit model visitor’s center at Beaver Lake Nature CenterApril 22, 2004Amy Schmitzaemehrin@syr.edu
Juniors in Syracuse University’s communications design program, part of the School of Art and Design in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, recently finished designing model exhibition spaces for the visitor center at Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville, N.Y. The visitor center recently underwent a major renovation that modernized the old exhibition space and added an additional room. SU students were tasked with designing an exhibition for the new space.
The results of the semester-long project are five unique designs that began to be exhibited at Beaver Lake on April 23. Each design is focused around a theme: “Trailblazing,” “Venture,” “After Hours,” “Secret Scouts” and “Look.”
“Our teams worked exhaustively on this project,” says Iris Magidson, assistant professor in VPA. “They researched every design element and met with the naturalists at Beaver Lake. They conceived and constructed every aspect of their designs, from trees to animal displays to interactive activities.”
The students were encouraged to design exhibits that complement the natural world without replacing it. Beaver Lake also requested that they emphasize information and communication and that the designs appeal to the usual visitors to the Lake – young students on field trips, families, hikers and senior citizens.
“All the designs wow me, and our goal is to ‘cherry pick’ from them,” says Bruce Stebbins, Director of the Beaver Lake Nature Center. “We’re also hoping the students’ models will act as a springboard for community enthusiasm and additional funding for completion of the renovation.”
The previous exhibition at the visitor’s center was called “Night Life,” and it lasted 20 years before the Nature Center decided to update the exhibition space. Twenty-four juniors collaborated on the project, with assistance from 33 sophomores who acted as project assistants.
“The students had a lot to think about,” says Magidson. “Not only did they have to come up with distinct, creative solutions that would appropriately communicate what is special about Beaver Lake Nature Center, they also had to think about space planning, traffic flow, fire regulations and how to encourage and inspire people to move from the exhibition to the outdoors.”
SU’s communication design department has a long history with engaging the community. In the 1980s the department designed all the graphics for Onondaga County Parks and in the 1990s created the Ed Smith School Nature Trail. The department is already looking toward community collaboration for the 2004-05 academic year.
The models will be on display all summer. Beaver Lake maintains 600 acres with 9 miles of trails. It is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to dusk.