Monday, April 18, 2011

Logo Evolution

Trying to find a book on my shelf the other day, I noticed that the logo for Princeton Architectural Press varied; it was not a static logo like the one for MIT Press. The latter was designed by Muriel Cooper in 1963 as an abstraction of four letters, M-I-T-P. It is a thoroughly modern design that can hardly be updated; it can only be ditched for another logo. PAPress, on the other hand, has a logo that refers to something physical, not language: the Parthenon (in particular, or a Greek temple in general). With this reference the logo can be updated almost constantly, keeping its architectural-ness clear in subtly different ways.

[Princeton Architectural Press books, left to right: Intertwining by Steven Holl (1996), Aldo Rossi Drawings and Paintings (1996), Local Code by Michael Sorkin (1996), Mockbee Coker: Thought and Process (1997), Urbanisms by Steven Holl (2009).]

If the above books are any indication, PAPress went from no logo (their name written out on the spine) to three iterations of the Parthenon-esque logo in about one year: an open pediment above the columns; a poched triangular pediment; and the same with the left and right points cut off. These are abstractions, like the MIT Press logo, but of architectural elements: podium, columns, pediment; or to put it another way: base, middle, top. PAPress's current logo (I'm not sure when it first appeared) goes one step further and abstracts the logo itself. It no longer refers to architectural elements, because they don't work architecturally; columns need to sit on a base (podium), and they typically hold up something (roof and pediment). Now the columns float and they sit below an arc (the sky?). With this logo I think they have found something stable, their modern image that can't be updated, only set aside in favor of something else, if the desire ever arises.