Gallagher & Associates, Spring 2019 - Summer 2022
Those coming to Washington DC for a glimpse of government usually put a visit to Capitol Building on the top of their list. The Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) caters to these visitors by hosting tours, educational programming, souvenirs, and an exhibit experience all underneath the open plaza where folks usually get their portrait photo taken next to the building’s signature dome. The CVC and the Architect of the Capitol sought to update their exhibit so visitors could better understand the impact of Congress on citizens’ everyday lives, and in turn how citizens could impact Congress with their own ideas and actions.
G&A’s role was in designing the visitor experience, creating and refining the written stories and artifacts, and creating interactive moments for visitors of all abilities. I collaborated with the lead graphic designer, Christian Cabrera, to craft the visual design and physical interactives of the exhibit, collaborating with each of our teams and stakeholders to create a hopefully beloved experience. Each of the following images feature designs that I had a major hand in concepting, developing, or supervising over the course of three years.
The “Congress Over Time” gallery is a chronological view of the legislative branch. Each of the six islands features special artifacts from the time period, framed with images, stories, and context about Congress. Each island in the gallery is introduced with an infographic, showing the growth of the nation and major acts of Congress over in that time.
The legislative process is complex, but creates lasting change. Our interactive team brought the “Can You Pass the Law?” game on the right into the main exhibit, accompanied by my infographics that illustrate all its twists and conditions.
The CVC wanted to go far above the requirements of the ADA and create a universally accessible experience when refreshing their exhibit. G&A recognized the increased availability of new, durable tactile fabrication methods and mounting trends in tactile artifacts and diagrams, so the initial concepts offered up many touchable opportunities for the exhibit. This technique was best used to both clarify the existing content and grant blind or low vision visitors access to the visual elements of the Capitol’s art and architecture.
I oversaw the visual design of these graphics from development to final production, creating and directing the art files then coordinating between the fabricator, CVC, and our freelance 3D printing specialist to complete the project.
Capitol Hill Over Time
Each tactile model was drawn from a top-down photo of its corresponding scenic model, then reviewed thoroughly for content accuracy. ADA-compliant numbers match a key on the right side of the panel. They use a combination fo CNC routing for the base plate and 3D printing for the buildings and numbers.
Latter models in the five-model series highlight which buildings were new and which were existing with a tactile texture.
The Capitol Dome
The CVC’s original exhibit drew visitors in with its large scale replica of the Capitol Building’s signature dome. Though visitors can get a sense of the details through touching the large model, we realized it’s difficult for any blind or low-vision visitor to get a sense of the overall shape of the dome exterior or the numerous interior details. In order to reach this audience, we illustrated the interior and exterior of the dome based on reference material and closely-reviewed models, then commissioned a 3D printing specialist to create these reduced-dimension versions that worked with the exhibit space.
Glass partitions separate the main exhibit from the Democracy Lab, a room where each wall and table hosts an opportunity to practice the job of a lawmaker. Visitors of all ages can vote on weekly issues, practice speeches, draft bills, and learn about different parts of the nation. The room aims to be a lively center of learning and fun.
- Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign for graphic design and installation diagrams
- SketchUp, Vectorworks for exhibit design