Rapid Response (Boston Uni Annual Report 2021)

Founded in 1839 Boston University is a private research university that counts among its alumni 8 Nobel Laureates, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, and the inventor of the telephone.

Their 2021 report views the financial year through the lens of the pandemic – how it affected students, staff, and the functioning of education. As a research institution, Boston University was equipped not only to react quickly to the pandemic, but also to deploy considerable resources towards combatting the virus.

The University’s COVD-19 response included the impressively fast construction of a fully-staffed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) clinical testing laboratory and eventually, a 98.8% student vaccination rate.

The report uses a tangled ball of thread as an opening visual, signifying the complexity of navigating a pandemic year, but does not hammer the point home visually. It does use the same loosely-doodled line work to link together various parts of the report, including certain photographs. The photography pairs summery outdoor images and vibrant red backdrops for most portraits. These are lit warmly, with the subject smiling or otherwise at ease – all of it suggesting an institution on top of their game.

The colour palette is limited, except for the financial summary, which bursts with colour. Type treatments retain a humanistic flavour by adding a faux handwritten typeface to the sturdy sans serif used for titles, and a modern typewriter serif for body text. Copywriting is in a confident voice and there is a lot packed into the report, suggesting a busy but also highly productive year in what was otherwise a difficult time for all of us.

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