The Hearth at NC State Plant Sciences - CODAworx

The Hearth at NC State Plant Sciences

Client: NC State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS)

Location: Raleigh, NC, United States

Completion date: 2022

Project Team

Creative Director

Mark Schmitz


Design Director

Amy Beyler


New Media Director

Chris Moore


Director of Project Management

Caroline Altfeather


Architectural Firm

Flad Architects


The Hearth is a two-story, 30-foot-tall immersive art installation inspired by NC State University’s Plant Sciences research station network.

Three regions are featured to celebrate North Carolina’s biodiversity: Mountain (light green), Piedmont (dark green), and Coastal (blue). Aerial farmland photography and a distinctive patchwork pattern, created by 253 tiles printed with USGS topographical maps, highlight the state’s diverse landscape. A large central media display cycles through each research center, real-time conditions, and research highlights. Motion is achieved through 26 corresponding light coves which change to reflect the region of each featured station.

This stunning data visualization is a point of pride that makes a memorable first impression in the lobby of the NC State CALS Plant Sciences Building designed by Flad Architects.


The NC State University Plant Sciences Initiative (PSI), headquartered in the new Plant Sciences Building, is one of the world’s premier research and innovation hubs in agriculture. ZEBRADOG was hired as the Experience Design Consultant by Flad Architects to visually communicate the bold mission of this massive team-based research effort.

The new 185,000-square-foot Plant Sciences Building at North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is a state-of-the-art research center years in the making to prepare students and stakeholders to thrive in a global marketplace. The mission of NC State Plant Sciences is to improve the world through plant science innovation.

Immersive art, digital media, and beautifully integrated materials enhance the architectural design and invite robust collaboration in this impressive place. This research building is a must-visit experience for future donors, student admissions tours, and visitors to inspire the talent and team-based research of tomorrow.


As a trusted Experience Design Consultant for Flad Architects ZEBRADOG approached this project with a unique design solution so storytelling and media integration aligned harmoniously with the architecture.

We helped to identify and validate impactful zones for branding, placemaking, interactive media, donor recognition, and engaging experiences.

Complex media installations were designed and prototyped to help everyone understand the size, functionality, content strategy, and specifications. Our proven approach to the content editorial process guides the client and architectural team to launch and ongoing content management.

Additional Information

Three distinct experiences designed by ZEBRADOG inspire researchers, students, and faculty to be creative thinkers, showcase the work being done to recruit new talent, and shine a spotlight on the innovation being done on campus, in North Carolina, and around the world. These experiences include 1) The Hearth (featured) 2) Seeds of Growth Donor Recognition Experience which celebrates the Founding Funders whose financial contributions helped to make the complex needs of team-based plant science a reality. ZEBRADOG experiential designers worked with the interior architectural details to incorporate a pattern of wooden slats and an earthy color palette for the 144 tiles printed with various textures representative of the state’s diverse agricultural economy. In addition to creating a donor recognition scheme to recognize donors of all sizes, an inviting interactive media display explores each donor story and highlights the real impact of how these donations improve programs. 3) Education Exhibit celebrates the grand challenges, thriving partnerships, and development of plant science leaders. It includes a corner digital terrarium with the ability to broadcast live research from remote stations around the state, display videos, research, multimedia stories, alumni network, and more.