The School of Visual Arts (SVA) is a  NYC based art college that is known for it’s stellar faculty and student work. I worked as the Multimedia Developer at SVA from 2012 – 2014, where I was responsible for, as well as its satellites sites.

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Originally, was developed on a Symfony 1.4 platform. At the time, I had zero experience with a framework this unopinionated. My work was mainly in WordPress. This was a wonderful challenge. I think I learned more about OOP in the first three months at SVA, than I had learned as a whole up to that point.

The SVA site is very large. It is unlike many other main higher ed sites, which typically are link dumps to all of their subdomians. SVA is the hub of the information for Applications, Prospective and Current students, Faculty and Staff. Because of the scope, the site was broken up into sections amongst the fine people I worked alongside at the VAP. A few of the sections I worked on that I am most proud.

Events Calendar

Everybody has an events calendar. Colleges tend to have more than one. There is an Academic Events calendar, but also another that tell the user all about upcoming exhibitions, shows, speakers, etc. The first iteration of the calendar was not very user friendly, and also didn’t use a lot of logic for different event types, imagery, headline length, and such. SO I took a stab at a redesign and then rolled out the new development, which is a bowl of spaghetti regarding conditional logic.  This was the outcome.

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First I wanted to block the events in a two column list, since the single line item list was really long.

The thumbnail is set to the right, so with or without a thumbnail, the text is properly set on the left margin.
I kept the leading tight on the headline to save on vertical space.
We need a category grouping system, which is what you see in the top text with the grey background.

The Faculty

I was also in charge of developing a way for faculty to login to the CMS to update their profile. While there may not be a lot of visual fantasma in this section, it was very rich in development knowledge.

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I’m going to use Michael J. Walsh as an example here, because he is hands down one of the best bosses ( and people ) I have had the opportunity to work for. While you cannot see it in this visual, what we had to do was authenticate user logins to the CMS via LDAP (which then changed to Active Directory), then use some conditional logic that was based on the constituency of the login in Active Directory. If the user login was listed as faculty, an automatic permission was assigned that gave them access to the CMS, but only to the faculty section. Sound boring? It is not. Sound complicated? Oh…it was. Especially after writing the code to authenticate via LDAP, then changing it for Active Directory. By the way…I am available for freelance work, if anyone reading this needs some work with auth on LDAP or Active Directory. I’m just sayin…I gotta eat!


SVA creates some beautiful videos, which we wanted to feature on the site. I was responsible for the layout and development of this section.

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As with most development, it’s the things that look simple that take the most time. While the code is a bit complicated, I like the logic I built in this page. In the CMS, the admin creates a main section, ie Undergraduate Student Profiles, SVA is…, etc, and then attaches videos to that section. Then, the admin chooses what to feature, which will set that section to the top. The logic has two set loops. One if the section is featured and outputs html to create the large top video and subsequent thumbnails. The second outputs the html for the other sections in the horizontal thumbnail listing.