I worked at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh (ICP) from July 2013 to May 2015, and one of the main objectives during my time there was to overhaul the entire face of the Center—from the branding to the building itself. By redesigning every aspect of the Center, we hoped to change the community's perception of what the ICP stood for, and change the community's behavior in kind.
The first task was to update the logo. The previous logo was an icon with Arabic calligraphy that could only be read and understood by a few. The American-Muslim population is uniquely diverse; only a small segment of this population is Arab or Arabic-speaking. Thus, we wanted a logo in English that better reflected the diversity of the American-Muslim population, but also would be representative of the Center's particular demographics. Because the Center is located very close to the University of Pittsburgh campus, a large segment of the active community members are young, college students. Hence, we knew we wanted a logo that was fresh and modern to appeal to the younger demographic. In addition, ICP is heavily involved in interfaith work and has regular visitors of other faiths wanting to learn more about Islam, so it was important that the logo be inviting and easily understood by not just Muslims, but people of all faiths and backgrounds.
Geometric patterns are a common theme in Islamic art that are equally appreciated by non-Muslim audiences, so I looked to traditional patterns for inspiration for the logo. I came across this flower pattern (below) in the walls of Alhambra in Spain and thought it was fitting, considering the Alhambra is a masterpiece of Islamic work in a Western country, and for many is symbolic of the peaceful coexistence of people of different faiths.
I recreated the motif in Adobe Illustrator and paired it with a sans serif font for a more modern, youthful affect. I took inspiration from the richness of emeralds (my favorite gemstone), and found that the green also offered a fresh, inviting brightness that would be pleasing to visitors and members alike. I also created a simplified version that could be scaled down and printed single-color.
From the logo, we redesigned the email bulletins, website, business cards, and the building itself. We also created and built up social media accounts, including podcasts of weekly sermons and YouTube videos. The new face of the ICP was dynamic and youthful, but also spiritually inspiring and thought-provoking.
The following is a series of Before and After pictures displaying exactly how every aspect of the Center's image was transformed. Please note that our contract with ICP ended in May 2015; any work that ICP has produced since then does not reflect the work of Hajira Qazi or Maymoon Design.
I updated all of the content and the design of the website for a more modern, airy aesthetic. The homepage was reserved for a simplified slideshow of upcoming events and a short welcome message for new visitors. We also added a search box and option to sign up to weekly announcements. Links to documents that would be referenced on a monthly basis were provided clearly but simply at the bottom.
Announcements were previously written up in plain text in Gmail. The lack of hierarchy meant important updates were getting mixed in and lost with "sidebar" information like email contacts and prayer times. I transitioned the system to Mailchimp, and redesigned the format to include a true sidebar with less pressing information and topic headings for the main content. The format was standardized, which made the content easier to read and the writing less time-consuming. Finally, I added the "Weekly Inspirations" with sage quotes to add interest and variety to the announcements.
The basement of the building was largely unused due to it being in a state of disrepair. The floor tiles were breaking, and the high level of echo rendered the space unusable for large community gatherings. The staff and I were the first in a long series of administrations to take the initiative to renovate the space. We sold and donated all of the furniture that was cluttering the space and repainted all the walls. We then replaced the tiles with hardwood vinyl that could better withstand the heavy traffic and furniture that occupies the hall. With the help of a volunteer contractor, we later created sound-absorbing panels entirely in-house, which removed the echo that had been problematic during public events. After the renovation, we held our first ever fundraising banquet in the social hall.
The ICP did not have any social media presence prior to my joining the organization. The following are links to social media accounts I established. Please note that as of May 1, 2015, I am no longer managing their social media accounts or website.