Mary Voorhees Meehan

20 Years of HS2 Architecture

  • To celebrate 20 years of architectural practice, HS2 decided to make a book. I mined the archives and was astonished by the variety of styles, textures, materials, and building types. It was hard to believe it was the work of just one firm. The problem was how to tie it together into a cohesive narrative of a singular practice. And how to create visual difference and rhythm with professional photographs as the only strong source of material?

    I proposed moving through the work in time by program, showing spaces for bathing, spaces for working, spaces for cooking, and so on. Each program was granted a full sheet: photos from the first decade on one half and photos from the second decade on the other. Folded in half, and nested, these pages become a book that proceeds chronologically. Interspersed are a conversation I “commissioned” from the partners, pull quotes from two decades of press, and a photo of all the press they’ve ever received in a massive pile, also commissioned by me. In the end, the story is about time and the incredibly heterogeneous body of work two principals executed together over that time.

  • A portrait of the firm is split: The left half appears at the beginning and the right, at the end.
  • Spaces for reading and spaces for bathing:
    In the course of designing the book, I mentioned that each sheet (unfolded) would make a board showing all 20 years of programmatically like rooms together. We made these boards for the anniversary party and HS2 now uses them in their office as well.
  • A timeline serves as the centerfold
  • The last 20 years...
  • The book was the beginning of a rethinking of the brand. The HS2 developed for the cover as well as the red used throughout have become key aspects of the firm's visual identity. I also worked with HS2 to create RFP/Q templates, an email template, and style guides as well as a comprehensive book in pursuit of a commercial project.