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Haeun Lee won a billboard design competition conducted through the UB Curriculum course `American Diversity and Design.` (Photo credit: Douglas Levere // UB)
Haeun Lee won a billboard design competition conducted through the UB Curriculum course "American Diversity and Design." (Photo credit: Douglas Levere // UB)

UB student's billboard encourages people to embrace their differences


Tue, Jun 18th 2024 01:15 pm

‘One heart, one temperature’ on Kensington Ave. through partnership with Lamar Advertising

By the University at Buffalo

Haeun Lee didn’t believe it at first.

“I thought it was a prank my friend was pulling on me. Even after seeing a screenshot, I still couldn’t believe it – so much so that I had to check the official announcement for myself,” says Lee, a graphic design student who just finished her sophomore year at the University at Buffalo.

The announcement was, indeed, very real: Lee won a billboard design competition conducted through the UB Curriculum course “American Diversity and Design” taught by Beth Tauke, an associate professor in the department of architecture in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning.

Lee’s billboard went up Monday at 578 Kensington Ave., between Dewey Park and Castle Place, and will be up through July 14 as part of a partnership with Lamar Advertising.

Lee, unfortunately, will not be in Buffalo to see it – she’ll be back home in her native South Korea for the summer. But the message her billboard conveys is one that would easily resonate 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean back home. She called her design “One Heart, One Temperature,” and, Lee says, it “visually represents the inherent unity of humanity, that we are different and fundamentally one.”

For her design, Lee used thermal imaging to depict several people embracing. The text reads “One heart, one temperature. Even though we are different, we all have the same temperature to warm others.”

She says, “By highlighting our shared warmth, this billboard encourages individuals to look beyond external differences and embrace the warmth of others. It serves as a reminder that fostering empathy and compassion can lead to a more inclusive and harmonious society.”

The idea behind her design “came from thinking about what connects us all as humans. I settled on the theme of love and warmth,” Lee says. “The more I thought about it, the more I saw love as this warm, embracing force that brings us together and breaks down barriers. So, I designed something that symbolizes how, when we come together, our collective warmth can create peace and unity.”

By using thermal imaging technology, Lee shows how body temperature “can be a unifying rather than a dividing force,” Tauke says. “The longer you observe the image, the more you see.”

Tauke has been teaching the course on American diversity and design, which enrolls more than 300 students, since 2002. The first project of the semester is always a competition, and this year the students were asked to develop a billboard around the theme of “embracing our differences.”

As a medium, the billboard encompasses each of the five design principles taught in the course. It is a vehicle of communication, a product, an architectural structure, an element of urban planning, and a component of the contemporary urban landscape, Tauke explains.

“In this project, we establish the importance of design as a social act through billboard design,” she says. “Billboards are powerful forms of advertising that reflect and shape our values and beliefs. For this reason, we chose it as the medium for exploring ways to become catalysts for social change.”

While Lee is bummed she won’t be around to see the billboard, she is thrilled to know that an entire neighborhood will see her message.

“It’s super exciting and honestly a bit surreal to think that my design will be on display,” Lee says. “I hope it encourages those who see it to think about how love and connection can make a real difference in our world.”

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