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VCU Life Sciences:

GeneMan Brand + Banner

The Challenge: 

The people in the Life Sciences department at VCU wanted to celebrate the opening of their new, state-of-the-art headquarters in a really big way. We took them at their word and took "big" to a whole new level.


The Solution: 

We were asked to design a simple banner to hang in front of the new headquarters. Instead, we suggested a giant, 49-foot-tall wrap encompassing two sides of the building. 


The wrap’s concept needed to effectively communicate what “life sciences” actually meant, since the term had not yet been defined for the layperson. Because cloning and gene manipulation were all over the media at the time, our first thought was of Frankenstein. To put a more positive spin on our creation, we designed a man not from body parts but from “life science” imagery such as the DNA sequence, thermal imaging, biomedical engineering and other discoveries that benefited humankind. 


When it was time to hang the wrap, we sat across the street in our Soccer Mom chairs and offered directions to the installation crew. “It’s up way too high,” we told them. “It’s too tight.” “There are too many wrinkles.” Did we endear ourselves to the crew? Probably not. (Sorry, guys.)


Did we endear ourselves to the Life Sciences department? You bet we did. They immediately loved “GeneMan,” as we affectionately named him in honor of then VCU President Gene Trani. 


Through the years, our short-term project has become a long-term symbol. A decade after we created him, “GeneMan” is still the “face” of the Life Sciences department and one of the truly iconic images of Richmond.

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