Historically, one of the most effective ways to increase literacy in a society has been to present its people with books of religious faith, a fact which inspired Wycliffe Bible Translators to make Christian education and literacy the cornerstones of its mission. As a group whose expertise is in communication, Wycliffe called on Lorenc+Yoo Design (LYD) to design its new Orlando-based visitors’ center – the WordSpring Discovery Center – to showcase the group’s achievements and ongoing global efforts.
Echoing the way in which Wycliffe devises writing systems for the nearly 3,000 world languages that lack them, LYD designed a visual language that would educate, engage and encourage involvement in the ministry of Bible translation. The environment uses raw concrete blocks, corrugated metal panels, rough stucco and wood – many materials found in places where Wycliffe is active.
When visitors enter the Discovery Center, they are greeted by an illuminated amber-glass Bible, which rests on a boulder in front of a translucent world map. This centerpiece represents the Bible as the “light unto the world.” The Introduction sets the tone for the rest of the exhibit, as do custom-built lights that illuminate sculptured figures that represent all of the people and languages that benefit from Wycliffe’s work.
Next, visitors proceed into The Bible area, where they take a glimpse into the New Testament. The environment is draped with white fabric with surrounding water features bathed in soft white light. This light and airy environment gives way to the Language area, a space punctuated with stone and adobe. There, visitors walk beneath a wooden “language tree” with 6,800 leaves that represent the number of discovered world languages.
Inside the Modern Translation area, visitors examine Wycliffe’s complex linguistic undertakings. Testimonials from people whose lives have been changed as a result of Bible translation are displayed elegantly along the length of the wall, which is topped subtly with a large wooden canoe from Papua New Guinea, which serves as an analogy for partnership. The Involvement area culminates the visitors’ experience, allowing them to use computers that link to available opportunities within the ministry, encouraging personal action and participation.
LYD designed Discovery Center with the knowledge that visitors would span many generations. In this way, parents and their children can experience appropriate interactive experiences. The firm designed the exhibit to allow for an expansion of up to 20,000 square feet as a part of its master-plan study. Future phases of the design will allow Wycliffe to continue educating visitors and encouraging them to partner with the company’s translation ministry.
From a tradition of Christian and written communication, Wycliffe continues to evolve, and, with Lorenc+Yoo Design, has created a new form of education that will continue its mission boldly and innovatively into the coming years.