Expeditions in Research

I’ve been thinking a lot about content for the pamphlet and podcast, and how this intersects with my day job of building design capacity at big organizations.

So far many of the podcast episodes are basically my obsessions: urban freight,equitable use of curb spacehousing, and urban play.

So I wanted to share three areas of research, which may or may not become an article or podcast:

  • Copley Square: The most important square in American architecture
  • Raymond Loewy: United States Coast Guard Racing Stripe & 1970 USPS Identity
  • Edith Hand’s 1975 United States Coast Guard uniform redesign

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Copley Square

Is there another square or plaza in the US which slaps so hard than Copley Square? On or adjacent you have Trinity Church by Richardson, Boston Public Library by McKim (and the lesser addition by Johnson), and the Hancock Tower by Cobb. Then down the street you have Back Bay, Prudential Center, and the Christian Science Center. 

I’m not sure there’s another place outside Columbus, IN or maybe Midtown Manhattan which brings together such a run like this.

Raymond Loewy’s Identity

Raymond Loewy was a French-born Mid Century industrial designer who basically designed key Mid Century identities and products (the other one was Paul Rand). Loewy designed the Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, the Pennsylvania RailroadGG1S-1, and T1locomotives, and the graphic identities of Shell, Exxon, TWA, the former BP, the the Air Force One livery, the Post Office eagle, and the United States Coast Guard “racing stripe” identity.

United States Coast Guard Racing Stripe

1970 USPS Identity

I’ve reached out to the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the JFK Library to see what documents they have. I’m particularly interested in early designs, sketches, etc.

Most of these items aren’t digitized, so figuring out when I have the time to spend a few days in Washington DC will be…fun.

Edith Head’s 1975 USCG Women’s uniform redesign

Edith Head was an American costume designer who won a record eight Academy Awards for Best Costume Design between 1949 and 1973, making her the most awarded woman in the Academy’s history. She designed for Grace Kelley, with Alfred Hitchcock, Bewitched, and Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark.

She worked with the USCG in the early 1970’s to create a women’s uniform distinct from the Navy. Lowey’s graphic identity was approved in 1965, and the racing stripe appears on the quite-1970’s neckerchief.

Again…I’m not sure where any of this is going, but it’s nice to explore a bit.

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