Constellation / Brooklyn Stencil

Brooklyn Stencil

Brooklyn and Brooklyn Stencil started out in an architectural model….

In April 2007, I got a call from a favorite client, Michael Bierut at Pentagram in Manhattan, asking if I could come in to talk about a project for a new architectural development. The project turned out to be the Atlantic Yards project, a massive undertaking involving a sports arena, an office block, and hundreds of housing units, all designed by the great American architect Frank Gehry.

While I couldn’t take the photos with me, I kept the images in my head, and made sketches for a type system to match the sprawling architectural plan, with angular sans, serif, slab, and octagonal variants. I built a rough grid of 8 type masters, which were manipulated in Superpolator to create a huge number of stylistic and weight variants.

An early rendering of the Atlantic Yards project from The Office of Frank Gehry

It was decided that the first sub-family to be developed would be the Sport variant, an octagonal sans for use specifically in the sports arena. The skeleton of the letterforms was made up of horizontal, vertical, and 45-degree diagonal lines, with just a few other ‘support’ angles woven throughout, to take the fonts away from a strict ‘constructed’ appearance. I worked out a light and heavy master, with intermediate instances rough-generated and corrected.

Pentagram's signage system at the Barclays Center Arena

We thought that Stencil version would come in handy, considering the type’s intended use in signage, and stylistically, it looked pretty great, and echoed some of Gehry’s architectural details. The font families were delivered as Brooklyn Sport and Sport Stencil in December 2007. In March 2008, the construction of all but the sports arena was delayed until the slowing economy picked up. In June 2009, Frank Gehry left the project and a new arena designed by SHoP Architects on a plan by Ellerbe Becket. The one thing that didn’t change? The Brooklyn Sport typeface.

Left: Brooklyn, Right: Brooklyn Stencil

We’re happy to finally make Brooklyn available for wide use after such an interesting journey through the machinations of New York city real estate and civic politics.

Version History

V1.0—Initial release version; 2013.01

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