A Legacy in The Making

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A behind-the-scenes look at creating the award-winning GRCC Ford Fieldhouse Legacy Mural

Facility signage can showcase a logo, give information, or point guests in the right direction. But sometimes, a project comes along that can inspire people in a much deeper way.

The floor-to-ceiling-and-beyond graphics in the new Grand Rapids Community College Ford Fieldhouse do just that.

Designed by Janice Ensing, a former GRCC graphic artist, Gilson played an integral role in bringing the award-winning project to life.

“I had worked with Jan on some smaller wall and window graphics at GRCC,” said Gilson account executive Rolly Smith. “When she reached out to me as a potential partner for the Legacy Mural, I jumped at the opportunity.”

“Jan had concerns about the size of the project and fact that we had less than 2 months to have it completed,” recalled Smith. “I assured her that we could handle it.”

Smith quickly assembled a team at Gilson to kick off the project, which included taking detailed measurements and sourcing the right material.

“We looked at about a dozen possibilities,” said Smith. “We finally found a new product by DreamScape® that was commercial-grade and met all the specifications for fire and wear that were needed to satisfy the builder.”

Rockford Construction and IDS Architecture were supportive throughout the entire build and worked together with Gilson’s installation team to ensure an award-winning final product.

“There were a number of challenges to overcome,” said Smith. “In one area there was a handrail that went right through one of the graphics, in another area there were light switch plates running though blocks of text. One of the longer hallways had a dip that we did not anticipate. Construction dust and unfinished walls presented their own challenges.”

“Working closely with the builders and with Jan helped us keep the project moving forward at a quick pace in order to meet the Grand Opening event date,” said Smith.

After weeks of printing and a few late nights of installing, the finished mural was ready for its grand reveal. The Ford Fieldhouse Legacy Mural was unveiled in January 2019 in the presence of politicians, local dignitaries, and the public at two separate Open House events.

The entire project featured nearly 2,000 square feet of printed wall graphics, including those that extended beyond the walls and were suspended from the ceilings in the locker rooms for a truly immersive experience.

The Legacy Mural earned Silver Paragon Award from the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR), a national organization for community and technical colleges.

It also earned a Gold Medallion from NCMPR’s District 3, which includes community colleges in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario as well as a Gold PRoof Award from the WMPRSA – West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Ensing was overwhelmed with the positive outcome, saying in follow-up correspondence, “Thank you Rolly for your enthusiasm and guidance throughout this project. I truly could not have done it without your team.”

Contact Gilson for help with your next big dream.

A look at the stunning visuals from the GRCC Ford Fieldhouse in our Project Gallery: