For the McGraw-Hill Companies, the gala for the McGraw Prize in Eduction is something of a tradition, established 22 years ago and held year after year at the New York Public Library. But for the organizers, the annual event presents a little bit of a challenge—dividing the Beaux-Arts landmark's Bartos Forum into two separate spaces for cocktails and dinner, which requires some artful decor placement within a visual design that doesn't detract too much from the venue's existing architecture.
This year, the collaborative effort between McGraw-Hill vice president of corporate affairs Eileen Gabriele, producer Laura Breitenbach of LMB Communications & Events, and designer Carolyn Bakula of Bakula Design produced a set up that used a simple black, white, and yellow color scheme and large lampshades. The inhouse team also employed a number of social media tools to pique interest in the prize, inviting guests to tweet during the event with the “mcgrawprize” hashtag and posting updates to Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr.
Suspended at varying heights from the ceiling between the forum's columns, the shades created a curtain that demarcated the dinner area from the cocktail section. The elegant, black-and-white pattern adorning these pieces was then continued in the projections on the floor and dome ceiling and in the embellishments on the table number cards and printed menus. To acknowledge the recent passing of Harold W. McGraw Jr., the producers also placed a gladioli arrangement, one of McGraw's favorite flowers, on the stage.
The dinner, catered by Olivier Cheng, included pass hors d'oeuvres such as Maine crab phyllo tartlets with lime and ginger and edamame puree on nori chips, a first course of seared scallops with heirloom squash, preserved lemon, and a sage and pine nut beurre noir, and a main course of filet of beef with wild mushroom soubise, red wine-glazed shallots and roasted rutabaga. The plated dessert consisted of banana tarte tatin with milk chocolate malt ice cream and orange sauce.
Recipients of this year's Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Eduction included Christopher Cerf, the creator of children's television show Between the Lions, as well as C.E.O. and founding principal of High Tech High Larry Rosenstock and Western Governors University president Dr. Robert Mendenhall.