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Value of Design Exemplified by ESI Design’s work for PNC Fairfax Connection

Posted October 11, 2019

Recognizing the opportunities for growth that were made available to residents of Fairfax — a working-class neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland —  the Design Management Institute awarded ESI Design and PNC Bank a Design Value Award for the impact of the PNC Fairfax Connection. Opened in 2012, the Fairfax Connection is a dynamic community center offering far more than the standard services of a financial institution.

ESI Design strives in every endeavor to transform places into experiences that bring lasting value for our clients. This commitment to long-term impact and the value of design is reflected in PNC Fairfax Connection’s role as a catalyst for a community in need of change over the last seven years since its founding.

During the design process, ESI Design worked closely with both PNC and the local community to assess in detail what could be done to address the needs of Fairfax residents. Once it was determined that community members were in need of opportunities to become more employable and financially independent, ESI leveraged the value of design to provide Fairfax residents with abundant educational opportunities. This fitted, personalized approach to the community center’s design allowed the focus to remain on how ESI Design could specifically address the community’s unique needs in an innovative and engaging way.

Implementing technology to support visitor experiences —16,000 people came to the center in 2018 alone — ESI Design developed the overall design for the community center, and created a state-of-the-art digital production studio with a large touch screen that is used in the center’s 30 different educational programs. Through these courses, Fairfax Connection members gain financial and technological literacy skills and are connected to resources that they may have otherwise been unlikely to seek out, such as a mortgage expert. More than 150 members have become employed with help from Fairfax Connection over the past two and a half years, serving as a powerful example for the value of design.

Designed with self- top of mind and tailored to the needs of the community, ESI Design anticipates a lasting legacy for PNC Fairfax Connection as a source of strength in the community. While the center is bright, engaging, and high-tech, it is not aimed to provide a fleeting experience with no lasting impact. PNC Fairfax Connection’s ability to create long-term change in the community underscores the value of design, and elevates PNC as a pioneer in corporate social responsibility. Instead of staying within its comfort zone of ordinary financial services, PNC is a trendsetter in focusing on educational opportunities and social justice in the corporation’s surrounding community.

The PNC Fairfax Connection is a primary example of the value of design, and ESI Design’s Design Value Award win is a result of the commitment to generate access to resources, education, and opportunities for growth for residents of Fairfax on a long-term scale.

Read more about ESI Design’s work at the PNC Fairfax Connection, and watch the video below.


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Michelle Lampariello

Michelle is ESI Design’s Fall 2019 Marketing Intern, and is blogging about the latest happenings at ESI and beyond.

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