Back to School at Brearley

November 19, 2020


Entro designed the signage and donor recognition program for The Brearley School, a prestigious K-12 all-girls school located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. After 85 years in its purpose-built premises at 610 East 83rd St., the student body and outgrown its original building.

In order to meet the needs of its students, the Brearley School set out to design a new 75,000 square foot, vertical campus building. Designed by KPMB Architects, the 12-storey expansion includes a flexible and multi-purpose learning landscape integrated into the lobby, state-of-the art labs, a large auditorium, a library, a common room and play space.

In addition, the building is designed as a LEED Gold teaching tool, allowing students to actively participate in sustainable features, including a green roof to be planted and maintained by the students.

Entro’s wayfinding program for the new building is designed to complement the existing building and consolidate the whole school with a unified look and feel. As there is very limited visitor access to the building, only a simple wayfinding strategy was required, with no need for directional or directory signage.

Instead, the focus was on consistent placement of signage and very clear level identification. To that end, the elevator cores had large outlined level identification. Stairwells had supersized playful numbers wrapping around the walls near the doorways.

Signage is minimalistic but elegant, utilizing the school’s traditional house red. The school’s colour also appears as an accent on sign edges and has a strong presence in the elevator core with bold red walls.

Two fonts from the school’s branding program - used for room identification and donor recognition signage respectively, along with the school crest, complete the brand presence.

Sightlines to the lobby wall made for a perfect opportunity to showcase the school’s crest, which was applied large-scale directly to the wall, creating a colourful, welcoming image that is visible from the outdoors. The Brearley seal is thought to have appeared in print for the first time on the cover of the school catalogue for 1890–1891, but has been redesigned since. The original design had to be maintained, but the detail enhanced enough for the imagery to be blown up to a 6’-6” diameter, and appear clear and detailed enough for people to view close-up.

Photography by Nic Lehoux.