Design / Universities / Web development

MICA has a new website, built by Baltimore’s Fastspot

The new site looks to offer connections to the community at the arts college, and throughout the city.

Inside a JHU/MICA Design Leadership class. (Photo courtesy of MICA School for Professional and Continuing Studies)

MICA launched a new website this week that aims to stand out.

With the redesign, the Baltimore arts college looked to completely recreate its digital presence.
“We wanted to share an authentic showcase of the creativity, ideas, and projects of our dynamic community of students, alumni, faculty, and visiting artists,” MICA President Samuel Hoi said in a statement. “The site illustrates the diversity of thought, people, and approaches that our students relish at the College.”
College officials chose Hampden digital agency Fastspot to build the site. Along with plenty of previous experience working on higher education websites, the agency has MICA-specific experience. Fastspot cofounder and President Tracey Halvorsen is a MICA graduate, along with Creative Director Curt Kotula and Director of Design Yianni Mathioudakis.
Fastspot wanted to offer a site that goes beyond a brochure for the university, Halvorsen said.
The team focused on two distinct categories, Kotula said. One was the “encyclopedia” of information about the college that a prospective student or anyone else seeking information might be seeking. The other was to provide a space that would be attractive to people outside MICA, showing the creative energy, “and how that extends to the community of Baltimore in a really comprehensive way. That had to be felt,” Halvorsen said.
A visit to the site shows sections on Baltimore and social entrepreneurs, as well as a “salon” section to showcase work and profiles of faculty, as well as deeper pieces that contextualize the work. It functions more like a digital journal. At launch, the section has 450 examples of art and interviews, including more than 150 alumni profiles. It also has a search portal to find art. The sections that explore the campus are still there, with a navigation system. Kotula said the visual work is also infused throughout sections that’s in the campus portal, such as the admissions page.

Tracey Halvorsen, Amy Goldberg and Curt Kotula. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Tracey Halvorsen, Amy Goldberg and Curt Kotula. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

The majority of the agency’s team worked on the project over the last year-and-a-half. Given the experience applying to art school and specific connections to MICA of team members who graduated over different timeframes, Halvorsen said they were able to recognize design elements that fit with the university. There’s also an added importance – and pride.
“You want it to be a big success for them,” Halvorsen said, adding that they want that success not just for the school, but for Baltimore.
Yet since MICA asked for something completely unique, the project also required Fastspot to step outside what was familiar, and scrutinize the work along the way.
“There’s no way to arrive at that kind of outcome by following along the conventional approaches of the past,” Halvorsen said.

Companies: Fastspot / Maryland Institute College of Art

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