Gonzaga University Explores Roots with Large-Scale Interactive Walls


Large-scale interactive walls at Gonzaga’s new John J. Hemmingson Center bring to life the university’s rich and ever-evolving narrative, creating an emotive, meaningful and connective experience for current and prospective students, alumni and faculty.

Nominating Company: Second Story, part of SapientNitro, Portland, Oregon
Venue: John J. Hemmingson Center, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington
Project: Large-scale interactive walls at Gonzaga’s new John J. Hemmingson Center
Category: Education & Healthcare

Each student at Gonzaga embarks on a unique journey. Guided by the Jesuit philosophy, they are encouraged to grow as people during their time at the university, developing intellectually, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Their separate paths converge to form a tight-knit global community bonded by the values they share.

The installations bring this experience to life in the university’s new student union. The Zag Wall serves as the pulse of the community, an interactive space where visitors can express themselves and connect to each other while the Welcome Wall offers an introduction to Gonzaga’s rich past and vibrant present through a cinematic narrative presentation.

The unconventional nature of the Zag Wall presented a couple of significant challenges. First, we were using a product designed for billboards in an unusual way, so we had to experiment with different glass tints and diffusers and LED colors to achieve the visual look and feel we wanted. Second, we needed to create a smooth and intuitive interaction without allowing the interface to intrude on the main goal of the experience: to spark community interaction through mark-making.
For the Welcome Wall, we had two different user types to consider: a visitor interacting with the wall directly and a campus tour participant observing someone else driving the content.

The 8-foot by 12-foot Zag Wall is the heart of the Hemmingson Center, serving as the memory of a place and its community. Multiple users can write on the wall simultaneously in response to a provided prompt, or they can navigate through messages left behind by others. Using a custom CMS, the university can schedule prompts to ensure their relevance, timeliness and ability to elicit lively discussions. The Zag Wall builds upon Gonzaga’s Ignatian philosophy, encouraging active participation, sharing of personal experiences and reflective dialogue.

The Welcome Wall lets visitors explore rich stories about the Gonzaga experience, from global engagement to athletics, academics and alumni. 3D LED arrays above and below the touch-enabled LCD broadcast colorful animations that change in sync with the content on the screen. The experience offers a succinct overview of what it means to be a Zag, immersing visitors in the university’s culture and history.

The Hemmingson Center opened in late summer 2015, and we have received enthusiastic feedback from the university’s students and staff.

We are excited to see the Zag Wall become a true reflection of the mood and diverse opinions on campus and are confident that the Welcome Wall will excite prospective students and their families by introducing them to the breadth of experiences accessible through a Gonzaga education.

Second Story won the DSE 2016 Gold Apex Award in the Education & Healthcare category.

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