Capturing 100 years
Ochsner Hare & Hare is a landscape architecture and city planning firm that has played a significant role in the development of Kansas CIty, as well as communities all over Missouri and the nation. Reputably the oldest landscape architecture firm in the country, the original father and son firm of Hare & Hare was founded in 1910. The Hare’s collaboration with George Kessler, a pioneer in the field of city planning, on Kansas City’s Parks and Boulevards system and Country Club Plaza marked the firm as one of the most prestigious in the region. This legacy has remained intact for over 100 years, as the firm has continued to shape the city we love. Those familiar with Kansas City will recognize their work in the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Loose Park, and Liberty Memorial – to name a few.
Ochsner Hare & Hare approached us to design a new website for their company. Having looked all over the country for the right agency, they were excited that the best team they found happened to be operating right under their noses in Kansas City. As they prepared to celebrate their 100 year anniversary, they gave us the challenge to properly frame their incredibly rich past, while still communicating the energy of a contemporary firm. Essentially, they wanted to celebrate the past century of their work, while christening their next century. Besides the communicative obstacles inherent in representing past, present, and future at the same time, we had to solve the problem of how to ensure a great user experience without compromising the huge information needs of the website. 100 years worth of work equals an impossibly large portfolio to display.
During our discovery work for the project, we found ourselves digging through the historical archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where they have over 13,000 drawings and designs attributed to Ochsner Hare & Hare. We were struck by the gorgeous pencil, ink, and watercolor drawings, done by hand in painstaking detail. These became both the visual hook of the website and our vehicle to communicate the rich history of the firm. We’re particularly proud of how informationally dense the site is, but how much fun it is to navigate and explore. Rather than be overwhelmed by text, we made sure that the user was presented with great visual assets at every turn. For example, the incredible hand drawn maps that form the backdrop of the website’s major sections singlehandedly speak to artistry, craftsmanship, history, process, inspiration, and possibility. The achievements of this website weren’t only visual, however; in order to ensure that Ochsner Hare & Hare were able to continue to grow their portfolio, we built a custom content management system and integrated it with the Flash interface — one of those feats where we managed to impress even ourselves. To read more about our creative process in designing and developing the Ochsner Hare & Hare website, please read our Design Lead’s article that discuss it here.
Since the launch of the website and their Centennial celebration, Ochsner Hare & Hare’s prestige in Kansas City has only grown. The public library system even launched an exhibit that highlights the tremendous work of the firm and the impact they’ve had in the formation of Kansas City. Needless to say, we’re proud to now be a part of that history as well.