McNamara Alumni Center Discovery Nexus Project Includes Seven Different Digital Signage Experiences


Tierney Brothers, along with strategy, design and content partners Microgigantic, installed seven different digital signage experiences using a variety of screen technologies coupled with high-impact brand stories to engage the University of Minnesota (UMN) guests in the Discovery Nexus co-location space. The seven different experiences include technology and content designed to tell the individual stories of the Discovery Nexus resident groups and engage their invited guests.

Nominating Company: Tierney, St. Paul, Minnesota
Venue: University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center Discovery Nexus Project, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Project: University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center Discovery Nexus Project
Category: Educational Environments

The Discovery Nexus was designed and built to meet several key objectives:
1) Tell the great stories of individual residence groups and the overall brand story of the University of Minnesota, while engaging guests with best-in-class technology and experiences
2) Increase University resources and talent working on problems identified by companies and individuals (sponsored research) for students, post docs, and faculty
3) Increase engagements with companies to commercialize University intentions
4) Enhance entrepreneurial student-education experience through the addition of real-world high-technology start-up analyses and training
5) Elevate quality and success rate of UMN start-ups by engaging executives and business partners with student and faculty
6) Improve connections among UMN faculty, staff, and students and with entrepreneurs, investors and business partners
7) Expand awareness and reach of UMN student and faculty talent, research resources, technology and other resources to the community

The challenges can be consolidated into a few key areas:
1) Telling individual consortium group stories while supporting the greater University of Minnesota Driven to Discover© story arc.
2) Selecting the right technology that was reliable, able to be programmed by University staff and that provided a “wow” factor for guests and users of the space.
3) Finding a solution and technology design that integrated into the architecture.
4) Build out of the Discovery Nexus space during the summer while most students were away, but meeting aggressive timelines to be finished with construction by the time students arrived in the fall for the start of classes.
5) Development of the experience design and content strategy that met the varied needs of the many residence groups that used the space.


As a part of the overall Microgigantic experience design and content strategy, each individual screen experience was designed to engage the guest with stories that were customizable, depending on which residence group was touring guests. The experiences are as follows: The CLEARLED metal mesh is a welcome screen, the Tower is a three-sided interactive experience that tells the story of the consortium members and events, the Curved NanoLumens Direct View LED Wall is the focal point for the Discovery Nexus space, the Collaboration table is a handicap-accessible hydraulic table for break-out meetings, the huddle space is a small meeting area, the Laukka Conference Room is a large presentation space with technology to match, and there are two LG 86-inch stretch displays that add an artful element.

Within the system, there are 10 BrightSign Players that allow them to show different types of scheduled content when not presenting. They also have the ability to plug in any device and wirelessly connect through Wolfvision’s Cynap collaboration and presentation solution. Content is distributed to individual displays using Crestron matrix switching as well as TVOne video wall processing.

The full design and construction of the Discovery Nexus was completed over a 1.5-year period between 2017 to 2018, including several months of testing and tweaking. All of the consortium clients, the University of Minnesota and the students have delivered overwhelming praise for the experience.


University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center Discovery Nexus Project won a an 2019 APEX Award in the Educational Environments category.

1 Comment

  1. Would love to visit the University of Minnesota and the experience the Microgigantic design and content strategy. I always appreciate the creativity with digital signage.

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