Alexander Tochilovsky Decodes the "Secret Language of Signs"

August 26, 2015

Alexander Tochilovsky A'00, curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography occasionally gives walking tours focused on the signage of Brooklyn neighborhoods. A recent walk through Fort Greene has been captured on video by Quartz, the digital business news outlet. In it he explains why the letters on certain signs have the shape they do and why some buildings have names.

"I see letters every where. It's something I'm always drawn to," Tochilovsky says in the video. "It sounds hokey but it's a way for me to touch history."

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.