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Interactive Annual 14:

America's Favorite Architecture

Launch Live Site

“The insight and openness this project embodies is a model for how to successfully and simply connect and empower people in the digital space.” —Michael Lebowitz

“The Guggenheim Museum vs. Disney Hall? I never thought about it that way and that’s exactly what I liked about the idea—and it doesn’t hurt that the interface is gorgeous and intuitive.” —Gabrielle Weinman

Overview: Designed along with an interactive kiosk and exhibit, for the 150th anniversary of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), this information-rich gallery of architectural landmarks couples breathtaking images with concise information. To choose the work, the AIA conducted a poll asking participants to cite twenty of their favorite structures in fifteen predetermined categories. The diverse selection of buildings, bridges, monuments and memorials represent some of the best of America’s architectural heritage.

  • The main interaction paradigm is a panoramic, horizontal scrolling image gallery.
  • The dynamic navigation structure works well for the large number of diverse, dissimilarly-sized images.
  • Two layers for Google Earth enable users to fly-through virtual, 3-D models of the landmarks.

Comments by Jonathan Alger:

What was the most challenging aspect of the project?
“We conceived the site as a hybrid Web/kiosk solution, which meant we had to create a high-bandwidth location-based application that would meet the needs of both online and onsite users without compromising the usability or interaction models for either group.

“While kiosks are normally optimized for specific hardware and software, Web sites have to work on a variety of platforms. Additionally our kiosks rely on at least a nominal wireless Internet connection—which hasn’t been as reliable as planned as the exhibit travels around.

“From a programming standpoint, by far the most difficult and frustrating challenge was dealing with Internet Explorer. It has unique standards for embedding content, but offers scant documentation to guide developers. We were fortunate to get valuable guidance from the Flash developers at Adobe.

How did time constraints affect your final solution?
“Due to an extremely short development time frame (an intense six weeks from concept to launch) we had to design and code on the fly, constantly feeding each activity.

“Interestingly, the time constraints created a process so agile and iterative that it led to a variety of creative solutions that might have not materialized in the more structured environment we normally follow in Web development. Actually, some of our original ideas did not materialize simply because of time limitations (we’re hoping someday to be able to add them back in).

“If we had it to do over again, we’d ask our client to give us the assignment six months earlier. Not only would it have given us more time to sleep at night during the project, it would have let AIA add in more content about the buildings, the architects and the organization.”

Jonathan Alger, creative director/exhibit designer
Maya Kopytman, art director
Maya Gorton, interaction designer
Diego Bauducco, programmer
Garry Mason/Jeff Washington, technical support
Emanuela Frigerio, graphic designer
Sybil Barnes/Janet Rumbarger, editors
Robin L. Hon/Andrew Brodie Smith, producers
Helene Dreiling, executive producer
Pam Jacobson, project manager
Carol M. Highsmith, photographer
Scott Finkelstein/Daniel Fouad/Graig Gephart/James Hicks, production artists
James Chu, researcher
C&G Partners LLC (New York, NY) , project design and development
The American Institute of Architects (AIA), client