The Ellis F. Lawrence Award


25 by 18 inches

Edition size 100

The University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts commissioned me to design and print a “certificate” that the School would award to a distinguished alumnus each year at graduation. A lettering artist would add the recipient’s name and accomplishments each year. Design elements and a quote by Professor Lawrence were to be determined by me, with the approval of University staff. Later in the process, they requested that a presentation folder be made each year using colors customized for each recipient.

The award

My first task was to learn more about Ellis Fuller Lawrence (1879-1946). Lawrence was an American architect who worked primarily in the state of Oregon. In 1914, he helped found and was the first dean of the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts, a position he held until his death. Lawrence concurrently served as campus architect for the University of Oregon and designed many campus buildings, including Knight Library and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

Looking for a design element, I toured Lawrence’s buildings looking for distinguishing visual features. I decided to use the design of a concrete frieze that surrounds the entry door of the Museum of Art. I obtained high-resolution photos of the panel, and from these commissioned Judith Sparks to produce an ink drawing of the design which could be reproduced using relief plates. The client was so pleased with this selection that they chose to use it as the branding element of the award and all that went with it. This design was also used for a bronze medal that was designed and cast for the recipient.

In search of a text I could use for the certificate, I spent several afternoons in the reading room of the University’s Special Collections and Archives reading through the personal writings and journals of Lawrence. I gained a deep appreciation for the man, his work, and his belief in education. The quote used was taken from one of his personal journals.

To integrate these elements, I chose a wide format and enhanced the “landscape” quality of this shape by hand tearing the top edge of the certificate to evoke a mountain range, suggesting the Oregon environment. I created a template, registered it to the rectangular print, and traced the mountain edge using a water charged brush to soften the fibers of the paper, allowing the top section to separate easily.

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