University of Virginia
University-wide Graphic Identity
In 2000 the University of Virginia launched a year-long planning initiative to look at their values, goals, and aspirations. One of their recommendations was that the university develop a truly integrated identity for the first time. They turned to Gibson Design Associates to accomplish this goal. We proposed a new drawing of the Rotunda which is based on Thomas Jefferson’s own rendering. Jefferson patterned the Rotunda after the Pantheon in Rome, and like the Pantheon, it is based on a perfect sphere. Jefferson dotted in that invisible globe on his sketch. This adaptation replaces the dots with the 13 stars from the original American flag to signify Jefferson’s intention to create a national university that would educate and inspire the generation of leaders that would follow his own.
We chose to base the logo type on Adobe Caslon, a 20th-century adaptation of a typeface originally designed by William Caslon—the founder of Britain’s first type foundry. This typeface was used extensively throughout the British empire during the 1700s, including the British colonies in America. When John Dunlap of Philadelphia typeset the first printed edition of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, Caslon was the typeface he chose.
We designed the university’s identity to be flexible enough to meet the almost uncountable needs of such a large and varied institution, yet remain strong and distinct despite that variety of uses. For more information about this design, see the University Graphic Identity web site we developed as an online style guide.