Cincinnati Children’s Clinical Sciences Pavilion by Ryan Newman


“An exceptional brand experience is brought to life throughout this magnificent new building and embodies our organization’s aspirations. It represents hope, the promise of discovery, and the potential to improve child health.”

-Michael Fisher, Cincinnati Children's President & CEO

When Cincinnati Children’s opened their new Clinical Sciences Pavilion it made a 14-story, 445,000 square-foot commitment to research, innovation, and collaboration. The Clinical Sciences Pavilion is located between the hospital’s main clinical care center and its companion research tower, the William Cooper Procter Pavilion. The positioning of this new facility is symbolic of its purpose which is to connect researchers and clinicians. It allows them to easily collaborate and translate innovations faster from the lab to the patient’s bedside.

Cincinnati Children’s invited Kolar, as a key partner of the multi-disciplinary design team, to envision a branded experience within the physical environment. The vision was to develop a space that inspires collaboration to drive innovation, build a sense of pride in the accomplishments of the organization, and create convenient, delightful spaces that encourage research trials participation.

Kolar began by seeking what makes Children’s research function unique. What we learned is nuances matter:

  • Participants in research trials are not motivated to participate in research the same way patients are motivated to seek care.
  • Pride is individualistic. To build pride, addressing the diverse value sets of the audience was imperative.
  • Providing opportunities to be heard, to give back, and to ask to participate can be very powerful tools in building awareness and brand loyalty.
  • Utilization of space is influenced both by the design and by an organization’s culture.

Equipped with these insights the team was able to define storytelling, brand building, wayfinding, donor recognition, positive distractions, and a comprehensive artwork program to meet the needs of the researchers, administrators, clinicians, patients, families, donors and visitors who utilize the space.

Within the research clinic, the registration and waiting space was designed to provide a functional and delightful experience for families. The spacious, open waiting area overlooks a sculpture garden within a serene outdoor setting. The focal sculpture symbolizes the transformation of ideas into reality that occur daily within this space. Child-friendly activities such as hidden “seek-n-find” animals, interactive games, and play zones provide a variety of choices for children, while plentiful charging stations near tables and banquets provide homework or work spaces for older children and adults during their visit.

The design of the staff spaces was carefully orchestrated by the architectural team to foster a culture of communication and information-sharing. In support of this, Kolar developed storytelling graphics that celebrate the history and accomplishments of the organization. Aimed to foster knowledge of the organization’s history as well as stimulate new conversations, these storytelling graphics engage staff and visitors throughout the building in static and digital approaches.

Throughout the building, Kolar curated a collection of over 600 works of art to inspire and lift those who utilize its spaces. A portion of the collection was created by engaging more than 350 students from local schools and approximately 144 patients, families, and staff. These participants were provided an opportunity to engage with professional artists/art educators in the co-creation of artwork displayed within the building. Through this approach, staff had an opportunity to have a hand in the creation of the new space; patients had an opportunity to give to others, and children within the community had an opportunity to learn about science and research.

In order for the full vision of the space to be realized, Kolar assisted Cincinnati Children’s in the development of a “welcome kit” to celebrate the opening of the new space and acclimate the occupants to the building’s unique amenities and desired culture.

Anyone who walks into the Clinical Sciences Pavilion can feel the spirit of innovation alive and thriving. When 400 researchers were asked if the new space conveys an image on par with the quality of care and research, a post-occupancy survey saw a 30% increase in the old space and the new one. As one staff member said, “I feel inspired when I walk in here every day, and I attribute this feeling of inspiration to my increased productivity and creativity in the past year.”

Within this new building, groundbreaking discoveries will be made that will change the outcome for children around the world. For the Kolar team, it will be immensely rewarding to see how the space enables the next generation of researchers to develop life-saving advancements in pediatric disease.

Check out for more recently updated Healthcare Case Studies.


Architecture & Interior Design
GBBN Architects

Architecture- Research Clinic & Dry Lab Planning
HDR Architects

Wet Lab Planning
Jacobs Consultancy

General Contractor
Messer Construction

Experience Consultant & Artwork Program
Kolar Design

Artwork Selection Committee
University of Cincinnati

Artwork Partner

Artwork Partner
Marta Hewett

Artwork Partner
Art Design Consultants

Art Partner
Mary Ran Gallery

Art Partner
Sollway Gallery

Art Partner
McElwain Fine Arts

Art Partner
Pace Prints

Art Partner
Blue Spiral

Art Partner
Malton Gallery

12 Local Grade and High Schools

81 International Artists


CES & ISA - 2017 by Ryan Newman

As we propel into our year of insights and innovation, one thing has become abundantly clear to our team; progress means constant change and new challenges.  Whether it be in communication, research or design, we are continually looking ahead at what’s next to provide our clients the best connection to people and place. Gaining knowledge in technology focused on the user experience strengthens our ability to create environments that communicate.

Last RALOK post, we brought you to the Digital Signage Expo through the lens of SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Design). Today, Kolar Design’s design team reflects on their experience at two additional conferences - the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show and the ISA International Signage Expo - both in Las Vegas.

Consumer Electronics Show

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the largest consumer electronics shows in the world, with thousands of attendees, exhibitor personnel, and media members making the trek from around the globe.  In addition to a large number of participants, there are over 50 acres of exhibit space spread throughout numerous buildings, showcasing a rich abundance of revolutionary ideas.

Key Takeaways

  • Overwhelming the Entirety of Technological Advances

  • EGD needs to not only catch up - but LEAD in this realm or others will. ( Look for a future post on EGD's effect in both the digital and physical landscape.)

  • Wearables that Communicate

Salesforce in San Francisco. Creating an environmental experience without adding materials to the wall. Immersive and engaging. A great example of Digital design creeping into EGD.

ISA International Sign Expo

Las Vegas, Nevada - A Sign Conference in the City of Neon

ISA International Sign Expo is a comprehensive “review” of everything related to the sign and graphics industry — including wide format printing, digital signage, new ideas for printing, LEDs, vehicle wrapping and more. It also sponsors lectures, roundtables, and workshops in order to get up to speed on important industry issues. Learning opportunities abound at the show, with expert-led sign industry-specific educational programs focusing on topics such as graphic design, sign code legislation, business management, sales and marketing, technology and more.

A quick review of all parties ( and accompanying acronyms ) involved in our experience at the conference.

International Sign Association

They support, promote, and improve the sign industry via government advocacy, education, stakeholder outreach, and events. Membership is primarily sign fabricators and suppliers.

Sign Research Foundation.

Supplies academic research on sign strategies, systems, and codes. Facilitates interdisciplinary dialogue to "create more navigable cities, thriving businesses, and strong urban identities." Regularly issue grants and scholarships.


The Cross-Disciplinary Program, sponsored by the ISA. Professional designers and design students with varied focus areas are invited to attend.


A one-day event that combines ISA + SRF + interdisciplinary attendees.
Speakers, case studies, and breakout work sessions.

In addition to the speaker’s topics ( which ranged from 3M Visual Attention Software to the court case of Reed vs. Gilbert ) - an energized group participated in a breakout session. Each group of 9 was encouraged to brainstorm the future of sign design in 20+ years, taking into account the exponential growth of technology and changing societal norms.

Standout Ideas

  • A volume knob for visuals: When following a familiar route, you can turn down the amount of signage you see; in a new place, turn it up, or change the blend of wayfinding/advertising/informational signage
  • A reduced dependency on written words for universal icons
  • Signs react to changes in temperature, lighting, scent, weather, etc.
  • Wearables that give you subtle wayfinding cues (two vibrations = turn left, etc.)

Key Takeaways

  • We need to keep improving the communication between designers and fabricators. The more designers know about specifications, the less back-and-forth in shop drawings and prototypes. The more manufacturers know about designers' intentions, the better they can help a design come to life.
  • The role of signage could change dramatically as personal, and public transportation undergoes a major transformation. When cars begin driving for us, a shift from navigational to informational could occur, or signage may start disappearing in areas where it causes visual blight.
  • Our cities provide the first impression of who we are and the values that we hold. They are born with a personality and an identity; the designer's task is to express it, not invent it.
  • Participatory design, especially with communities, can make a project truly successful. Example: Hunt Design worked with Idaho Falls to utilize local artisans and used input from citizens at council meetings. Locals are more receptive to design when they can feel like part of the process. "Invite people to the table."
  • Digital signage continues to be a complex and wide-ranging category. Clients don't always know where to use it, what products to choose, how to generate/maintain content, and how to plan for 5+ years of sign life. Designers must bridge the gap between suppliers (who wish to sell) and clients (who want the best experience).


SEGD @ DSE - 2017 by Ryan Newman

SEGD Branded Environments at the Digital Signage Expo 2017

Las Vegas, Nevada


To fulfill our hunger for knowledge and seek out innovation, we attended the Digital Signage Expo again this year. Our team recognizes that the landscape of design (and really everything in our lives) is changing with the advancement of technology. The Digital Signage Expo (DSE) is an opportunity for us to remain on the forefront of innovation for our clients. Gaining knowledge in signage technology continues to strengthen our ability to create environments that communicate.

Our time at the DSE split between lectures, coordinated by the Society for Experiential Graphic Design’s (SEGD) Branded Environments event, and an exploration of the Las Vegas Convention Center showroom.  Within both segments of the expo, we were able to experience two different tones of voice on similar subjects. SEGD inspired through lectures from an experiential designer perspective.  This point of view was incredibly powerful when one such lecture enveloped project case studies into a larger social context of histories and current events to build best practice philosophies. Inversely, DSE exhibitors spoke from an informed technical proficiency which provided explicit detail.  

Beyond these different tones and incredibly advanced digital screens, we realized something amazing that we already do as a team; we engage in a deep dive with our clients to uncover their personal, unique needs and deliver beyond their expectations – always keeping the end user in mind.  

As soon as you enter the DSE showroom floor, it becomes clear that just about everyone has the capability to work with impactful digital signage, as it has become an industry standard.  It is easy to get wrapped up in the details of the technological bells and whistles and lose sight of the end user.  Harnessing big data and curating adaptable content allows a self-proclaimed digital expert to see beyond the plethora of digital screens flashing in the periphery. By integrating user research, consumer market knowledge and an overarching smart city approach, there are endless opportunities to not only create, connect and enhance but personalize and future-proof any user experience strategy by design.  

“Designers don’t make the future; they compete with it.  Design the behavior, not the brand.”

-Brian Collins, CCO and Co-Founder, COLLINS

Park and Trail Maps - Washington Post by Ryan Newman

Kolar Design and the entire project team are extremely honored to have the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park included as part of this article by Kim Cook | AP in The Washington Post. Alongside Corbin Design, C&G Partners, Ecocreative and especially the National Park Service; we spend every day focused on enhancing the user experience both indoors and out. Take a moment to find out more about the thought and design that goes into developing integrated systems for park and trail signage.

What was your last great experience out on a trail or in a park?


This article by Kim Cook | AP originally appeared in The Washington Post on April 4th, 2017.

This undated photo provided by C&G Partners and taken at the West Point Foundry Preserve in Cold Spring, N.Y. shows a freestanding trailhead which incorporates a cast-iron branding seal inspired by the original 1818 Foundry stationery logo, the site map and interpretive panels about early Cold Spring. The trailhead's mesh metal structure is filled with brick fragments taken directly from the Foundry ruins. The kiosk's canopy features laser-cut lettering identifying the Preserve. (C&G Partners via AP)

This undated photo provided by C&G Partners and taken at the West Point Foundry Preserve in Cold Spring, N.Y. shows a freestanding trailhead which incorporates a cast-iron branding seal inspired by the original 1818 Foundry stationery logo, the site map and interpretive panels about early Cold Spring. The trailhead's mesh metal structure is filled with brick fragments taken directly from the Foundry ruins. The kiosk's canopy features laser-cut lettering identifying the Preserve. (C&G Partners via AP)

"A hike in the woods or a stroll through a preserve or park can be enhanced by a good trail sign — one that is informative, easy to see, yet doesn't intrude on the vista."

"It's a lot to ask of a sign designer."

'"A wayfinding sign should be apparent when you need it. But when you're not looking for directional information, its aesthetics should complement the environment so that it'll feel as though it belongs there,' says Jeff Frank, lead designer at Corbin Design in Traverse City, Michigan."

Read Kim's entire article at online - The Washington Post

Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park

What if a park by design could teach equality and respect for all cultures, encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to meet and interact, and use art, ecology and garden to express universal ideals of peace and friendship? The design of Cincinnati's Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park, named in honor of the city's first African-American mayor and foreign ambassador, emphasizes the things that bring people together. The park was envisioned to give life and purpose to an underutilized strip of land along the Ohio River.

A multidisciplinary team of landscape architects, architects, environmental graphic designers, and artisans collaborated throughout the design creation process. From a local perspective, the park needed to honor local river ecology, connect riverfront parks and trails, and highlight the city's international relationships. From a global perspective, the park needed to honor and celebrate cultures. The concept of the park celebrates the natural linear river setting by creating a "friendship bracelet" with charms on the bracelet as major features.


Architecture/Interior Design
Fearing & Hagenauer

Brand Experience
Kolar Design
Siebert Design

Geograph Industries

Landscape Architecture
Human Nature

Check out for more information
n Cincinnati's First International Friendship Park

WBENC: Leveraging the network by Ryan Newman

We first learned about WBENC Certification (Women's Business Enterprise National Council) when our largest clients, Procter & Gamble and Cincinnati Children’s, encouraged us to participate. That was nearly ten years ago, and since that time we have been actively engaged on the local, regional and national level of WBENC through our regional partner organization, Ohio River Valley-WBENC.

Kolar’s certification has helped us achieve greater heights with increased revenues, an expanded workforce, inspired growth and innovative partnerships. This active group of women entrepreneurs has translated into business growth on many levels, but most importantly, it’s turned into a network we can learn from which has helped us immensely. Whether it was coaching financial decisions around IT issues, or brand building with e-learning, we have benefited during each step of the innovation growth curve with this group.


The educational opportunities through our WBENC Certification and related conferences have helped us learn about managing our company, marketing & sales, and provided direct access to hundreds of potential corporate clients. If your organization qualifies, joining WBENC will help grow your business while helping others improve as well.


If you are new to the WBENC community, our advice is to dive in head first; be bold, bright and open. Although it’s hard to be at the top and can be lonely at times, with this network, you are supported because it is so rich in wisdom and knowledge. The people in this community provide great insights and opportunities. You always have to earn your own business independently, but the WBENC community can help you succeed in so many other ways. This organization is about creating relationships that will be your lifeline, especially when you’re in a challenging situation. For example, if you are seeking a particular supplier, please contact the WBENC network, and I am sure you will find an amazing woman entrepreneur to fill your need. The businesses here will always be your biggest fans - cheering you on to success.  


WBENC’s Summit engages participants in a two-day program focused on the future of various industries, business networking, and development opportunities. The Salute follows the Summit and is a festive evening that highlights our 2016 America’s Top Corporations for Women Business Enterprises. The Summit occurs on March 21-23, 2017 in New Orleans, LA.

We hope to see you there! 


Women in creative leadership roles are rare. Even though 47% of the U.S. workforce is comprised of women, in U.S. businesses, only 4% of CEOs, 8% of top earners and 14% of executive officers are female, according to research by nonprofit Catalyst titled, “Catalyst Quick Take: Women in U.S. Management and Labor

Force.” Statistically, women also dominate at design schools; however, along with the path

to creative leadership, that number of women diminishes to approximately 3%.

“WOW, this doesn’t feel like a law firm!” by Ryan Newman

Stepping off the elevator and entering the reception area of Graydon’s rebranded office space evokes a similar reaction from clients and guests alike, “Wow this doesn’t feel like a law firm!”

We invite you to follow Kolar’s journey in creating a new Graydon brand, and transforming the customer experience within their new offices.

In May 2014, Graydon’s ‘Committee on the Future’ challenged their Chairman, Tom Prewitt to create a legacy of change. Within the firm, Tom has always been one to embrace change, and this promised to be his biggest challenge. Fortunately, Tom believed in the power of design. He understood the importance of experiences and he knew, for the firm to remain relevant, change was imperative. He wholeheartedly embraced the concept of transformation as Graydon was about to step into a new era. Tom noted, “It was time for a transformation. It wasn’t about just a move to a different office but a larger transition, the opportunity to change the many things we’ve wanted to change over the years.”

The Graydon leadership team started the transformation by redefining their vision statement.

Greater Cincinnati’s most innovative and vibrant law firm, recognized by our clients as an indispensable partner, providing exceptional service and expertise.

This vision established Graydon’s progressive attitude and appetite for change. Kolar was then challenged to redefine the brand, setting a framework to:

  • Define the signature quality of Graydon

  • Build upon their most ‘innovative’ and ‘vibrant’ vision

  • Create a new identity, message platform and website

  • Reflect their important position within the Cincinnati community

  • Drive change in the overall Graydon culture

At Kolar, we place a heavy emphasis on the front end of our design process, spending time to discover and learn before crafting a successful design strategy. In our discovery work with the Graydon team we interviewed key stakeholders, conducted a survey with staff, and facilitated a design thinking workshop. We gathered 25 members of the extended Graydon team, representing a diversity of voices and generations, to help build a consistent brand foundation. The workshop was a full day, resulting in great insights which lead to creating a narrative we could all support.

The core idea encompassing the Graydon narrative is ’Connections’.


The most powerful relationships in life are built on authentic connections; where you know each other so well, you can anticipate what the other thinks and needs. You respect where each other is coming from because you’ve been through it together. You’ve experienced the joys, and the pain. At Graydon, we aren’t just legal service providers; we’re our clients’ constant counsel. We get to know our clients, their personal and professional experiences, so well in fact, we are truly partners. Our relationships run deep because we’re always there – sharing our knowledge, anticipating what lies ahead, navigating change, forging a way to the best outcomes. 

For 140 years, Graydon has been an indispensable partner, building relationships with our clients, and the communities we serve. With deep knowledge, and even deeper empathy, we remain connected to you. 

With our core narrative of ‘connections’ in place, our next objective was to create a comprehensive identity system. Our logo exploration ultimately lead to the use of ‘conversation boxes’. This graphic element is used to visually express how Graydon connects with their clients, colleagues and the community. The overlap of translucent elements is symbolic of the magic that happens thru Graydon’s connections. The resulting square becomes the geometric shape that forms the basis for the identity system.

  • Proprietary letterforms are simple but bold to suggest trustworthiness, strength and stability
  • Color palette uses timeless blues and grays with accents of fresh, vibrant greens and orange
  • Other assets include a variety of colorful and linear patterns

By this time, an office location had been chosen. Using the message platform and newly created identity system, we translated the brand into the physical environment.  

We established the following goals with the Graydon leadership team for the new office space:

  • Provide a welcoming, authentic experience where every client need has been considered

  • Elevate the experience for clients, guests and employees, drawing them to the inspiring views of the city and river

  • Capitalize on the open, light-filled spaces with touches of texture, color and an edge of creativity

  • Optimize employee amenities to facilitate collaboration and provide opportunities for a casual break

  • Communicate the connection to our clients, our community, and each other while introducing the fresh, new Graydon brand expression

After exploring several concepts, the leadership team selected ‘Bridges’ as a metaphor for how Graydon connects to clients, each other and the community. ‘Bridges’ also provided the perfect avenue to bring the beautiful, expansive views of the Ohio River bridges into the space, bringing the iconic Roebling Bridge to our front door.

This collection of images depicts how the graphic assets have been integrated into the physical environment to tell the new Graydon story.

The entrance makes a statement about the new brand, introduces the identity and highlights the artful sophistication but, most importantly, draws guests to the amazing views of the river and bridges. The large ‘conversation space’ and café are meant to be open and welcoming. Even the reception table is designed to suggest the Ohio River and reflect the qualities of a bridge structure.

The entrance makes a statement about the new brand, introduces the identity and highlights the artful sophistication but, most importantly, draws guests to the amazing views of the river and bridges. The large ‘conversation space’ and café are meant to be open and welcoming. Even the reception table is designed to suggest the Ohio River and reflect the qualities of a bridge structure.

“Our space faces outward and that’s a metaphor for our people, we expect them to be out and in the community” (Tom Prewitt)

“Our space faces outward and that’s a metaphor for our people, we expect them to be out and in the community” (Tom Prewitt)

Subtle graphics of bridge structures link the inside to the outside.

Subtle graphics of bridge structures link the inside to the outside.

Business cards offer a variety of printed backs (colors and patterns) to demonstrate innovation and to delight.

Business cards offer a variety of printed backs (colors and patterns) to demonstrate innovation and to delight.

The ‘connecting stairs’ reinforce the theme and show the new graphic pattern.

The ‘connecting stairs’ reinforce the theme and show the new graphic pattern.

A collection of story panels that reinforce the connections Graydon has to their clients, community and each other. These serve as an introduction to the personal stories you’ll find on the new website as well.

We hope you enjoyed our journey! ‘Thanks’ to the Graydon team for believing in the power of design. And, thanks to our many design partners for collectively delivering an ‘experience’ that is truly innovative and vibrant - and makes clients exclaim, “WOW, this doesn’t feel like a law firm!”  

“One of the really pivotal, correct, decisions we made was, number one, to hire Kolar and number two, get them involved early in the planning process with Hixson and Cushman from day one and that has really turned out to be the right thing to do and you can see it now, you feel it in everything, the brand is really integrated well within the space.”

T. Prewitt, Litigation Partner and Firm Chair


For more information about Graydon, please visit


Brand Experience
Kolar Design

Architecture/Interior Design

Commercial Real Estate
Cushman & Wakefield

Hunt Builders Corporation

Site Enhancement Services

JH Photo


Innovation_image (2).jpg




noun: innovation

a new method, idea, product, etc.

Dear Friends, Colleagues, Clients and Team,

In 2017 we will be taking our company to the next level. Together we have reached new heights with our most innovative team ever. I’m immensely proud of the work that we are doing to make our firm a force for “insights and innovation”.  

We are passionate about finding new and better ways to connect people, places, and brands—from healing environments focused on the patient and family experience to global workplaces that blend corporate and cultural identity. You can find our work in mixed-use development, where place-making is breathing life into urban areas; in city parks that have become the heart of communities; and in academic settings, where shifting populations and new technologies are redefining education. Our team is driven by the belief that great design is transformative, that environments can be an agent of change for people, brands, and business. We design to remind people why they do what they do every day, to change a culture and, sometimes, even to change lives.

The success of our company was built on innovation. We have embraced it in everything we do, from digital integration to enhance the user experience, to developing metrics and insights on the impact of space on people. We are pioneering new technologies in our projects, and also developing design research methodologies to enhance the lives of our communities at the intersection of people and place.    

I could not be more excited about what’s in store for this year, and for the opportunity to work with all of you to accelerate our year of insights + innovation!


Kelly Kolar - President & Founder

Kelly Kolar - President & Founder

AtriCure Headquarters by Ryan Newman

Mason, Ohio

How do you create a branded showcase for potential customers and celebrate a dynamic employee culture?

AtriCure, a rapidly growing company developing medical device solutions for AFIB, challenged Kolar Design to bring their ‘Heart of AtriCure’ brand story to life in their new 55,000-square foot Mason, Ohio headquarters.

Leveraging the theme ‘Rhythm of Art + Science’, we used the pulse of a heartbeat to create an educational expression and informative customer journey. AtriCure's features engage surgeons and engineers to demonstrate their innovative products, validate manufacturing standards, share the corporate vision and build brand loyalty.

The branded environments solution also provides employees many opportunities to celebrate and recognize outstanding colleagues, performers and business partners. The entire experience is wrapped in a warm neutral palette, with large typographic wall graphics, specialty signage and colorful, circular mobiles symbolic of the AtriCure brand icon.

“Kolar executed flawlessly on our original vision to create a space that is open, bright and fosters a warm, inviting feel for our employees and customers who visit. The newly branded environment has had a very positive impact on our staff. We couldn’t be happier.”

- Justin Noznesky, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development

Check out for more recently updated Corporate Workplace Studies.


Brand Experience
Kolar Design

Architecture/Interior Design
KZF Architects

JH Photo