Jan 16, 2018

One Shoe Moment: The Story of North Carolina’s Jaw-Dropping Air Jordan Wall

The entry to North Carolina’s basketball locker room features a storytelling piece for the Tar Heels’ greatest legend, a jaw-dropping gear display, a moment for Jordan Brand and the backdrop for countless hype videos.

Not bad for a wall full of sneakers.

After more than a year, the Tar Heels’ display of each of Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan shoes has become the focal point of their facility.

ESPN uses it as B-roll on broadcasts. Coaches can use it as a recruiting tool. And the marketing and social media departments have used it to engage fans.

“When you see shop drawings, you’re hoping for the best and you’re thinking this could be cool,” said project engineer Brady Gowin, who oversaw the fabrication and implementation of the entire project. “Then you see it in the space and the reactions were unbelievable. People just fell over when they saw it.”

1️⃣ Day #CarolinaSZN

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The display came together as a result of brainstorming by Advent’s design department, problem-solving in fabrication and engineering and a little luck.

In the early stages, North Carolina charged Advent with finding a way to highlight the Jordan Brand and Air Jordan as the program — including football — embraced the Jumpman logo in homage to Michael Jordan.

Original concept art showed several options — each shoe laid out linearly (which would not have fit in a compact space) to each shoe with an image of Jordan to show his progression from UNC freshman to NBA legend to each shoe with a portion of the casework routed for each sneaker (which would have been difficult to fabricate).

North Carolina opted to let the shoe and the Jordan brand speak for itself.

“Ultimately they ended up going with this option that was simple and clean and letting the shoe be the impactful piece,” Advent director of graphics Jared Coomes said.

Then came the challenge of building more than 30 tubes lit Carolina Blue to showcase each shoe.

“We looked at metals, we looked at glass, we looked at acrylic,” Gowin said. “We looked at combinations of those. Then it worked out to be a plywood cylinder with a shiny laminate with an acrylic face to allow for maximum light.”

And the way the light reflects off the tile? Depending on who you ask, that was either an intentional use of the surface for dramatic effect or a happy accident.

“The reflection in the floor makes it look great,” Coomes said. “It turned out freakin’ awesome.”