Design’s ability to create interest and provoke response can be directly responsible for stimulating dialogue. One example of that notion put to the test can be found in the nascent “Grafik Intervention” project.
Originally conceived as a graduate thesis by Academy of Art University student William Culpepper as a means to spark urban revitalization efforts, Grafik Intervention has become an ongoing series of independent events deployed in a wide variety of contexts as a means to get the ball rolling in cities across the country.
The projections will reflect a message about a specific unused building in order for the community to learn about the facility’s history and purpose. The projections will take place at four Big Rapids locations, including the former El Burrito Restaurant, located at 804 North State Street from 9:30 to 10 p.m.; the former Ford car dealership property, located on 1400 Northland Drive from 8:30 to 9:15 p.m.; an empty building at 720 North State Street next to Pennzoil, from 9:30 to 10 p.m.; and Hillcrest Elementary School, at 501 Bridge Street from 8:30 to 9:15 p.m.
Ferris instructor William Culpepper assigned his GRDE 414: Design Seminar class with a unique task: project images onto a forgotten building in Big Rapids to bring awareness to them.
“Each of these case study buildings was carefully selected based on their notable history and location, in contrast to their current state of abandonment,” said Culpepper. “The buildings will be thoroughly researched and documented by the student groups. The information of the buildings’ historical usefulness will be projected onto the building façade creating juxtaposition thus illuminating each building’s current potential.”
Under the guidance of William Culpepper, assistant professor of Graphic Design at Ferris, students ventured into the Big Rapids community as part of a project designed to serve an educational purpose with a local benefit.
Like many communities, Big Rapids is home to its share of buildings that are vacant or have been underutilized for one reason or another. Motivated by that reality, senior students in Culpepper’s Design Seminar class were tasked to explore alternative methods that could spark interest in the history and potential future use of three vacant buildings.
To most people, abandoned buildings and neglected neighborhoods might not seem like an opportunity for an innovative graphic design project. For William Culpepper, they presented a chance to use his thesis project to inspire positive change in communities.
Refurbishing abandoned buildings is becoming a trend in Michigan. Ferris State University is following the trend by encouraging community members to give their opinion on how buildings in the Big Rapids area should be reused.