When it comes to the art of the sell, many agencies believe a certain type of environment is key in nurturing the required creativity. Since its founding in 1996, the school had been housed in a Richmond office building, shoehorned in among lawyers and other 9 to 5 regulars. Now, with the new digs for its approximately 175 students and 11 faculty, the school has aimed for a home to reflect its philosophy.
"We've put into place a program predicated on collaboration," says Rick Boyko, the former Ogilvy & Mather creative chief who has built VCU's profile and educational product since taking on the role of managing director in 2002. "I think this will be a manifestation of that in a real way, in that the building is set up to not only be driving you creatively but collaboratively."
Boyko points to Wilkinson's work with Chiat/Day and Mother, as well as Google and the Disney Store headquarters as examples of how the right learning space will influence students. "More entrepreneurial and creatively driven clients are also using open space so both sides coming out of this program will go out and be a catalyst to change agencies culturally through the (working) environment."
Last June, the school received a $1 million donation from the Interpublic Group towards the building. Boyko also took the school's need for improved facilities personally, donating $1 million of his own money to the effort. "It was something my wife and I had always discussed doing," he says. "We thought we'd do it later rather than sooner but since the building needed some momentum we decided to do it now and hopefully challenge others to give also."
In addition to the new street address, the Adcenter changed its name to better reflect both the continued evolution of the industry as well as its own expanded curriculum. "(The name Adcenter) was restrictive in the sense of what we were teaching, especially to the client side," says Boyko. "If we were hoping to place creative brand managers on the client side then 'brand' was more expressive than 'ad.' So we've kept the equity in 'center' but the real equity is in VCU. As the Brandcenter, we'll continue to develop a curriculum that keeps pace with where the industry is going. We're not teaching from the past at all and I think the word 'brand' expresses that point."
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