Howard University

Championship Culture Converts Old Gym to Dynamic Recruiting Space

Experiential Design Transforms “The Burr” Practice Facility



ZEBRADOG set out to create a bold brand expression for the renovation of Howard University’s 1963 athletic practice facility located within the famous gym affectionately known as “The Burr.”


[Recruiting] is an arms race. … you want to make sure [athletes] have all of the basics that they need, they have a good strength and conditioning room…

I don’t want the gap between what we’re providing and what they could get at another school to be that great. If it’s close, then the other elements of Howard can kick in to put us over the top.

Excerpt from article "Howard University Athletic Director Kery Davis Found Formula for Bison’s Success"
Kery Davis
Athletic Director




Experience Design
Experiential Design
Facilities/Campus Branding


Athletic Facilities
Higher Education

“Sports has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sports can create hope, where there was once only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” Nelson Mandela (2011)

Founded in 1867, Howard University ranks among the highest producers of the nation’s Black professionals and is regarded as one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning. Howard University Athletics approached ZEBRADOG to create an experience in Burr Gymnasium that reflects the mission and values of the storied Bison athletic department.

The mission seeks to attract and cultivate student-athletes who reflect Howard’s core mission to develop leaders who will change the world and pursue excellence in the classroom, on the field, and in the community. Coaches and administrators reinforce these values by instilling the importance of leadership, integrity, discipline, sportsmanship, and teamwork. They also credit athletic director Kery Davis with prioritizing athletic resources and facilities to mirror the school’s successful academic reputation giving it the edge in recruiting top student athlete prospects.

As the Experience Design Consultant for The Beck Group, the ZEBRADOG team set out to create a bold brand expression for the renovation of the 1963 practice facility located within the famous gym affectionately known as “The Burr” and home to the Bison men’s and women’s basketball as well as women’s volleyball teams. Opened in 1963, it is named after John Harold Burr, Jr. who rose to prominence as a pioneer in Black participation in the sport of soccer and contributed to Howard’s dominance in Historically Black College and University (HBCU) championships during the 1950s.

ZEBRADOG transformed the lower practice gym by designing a new court floor and vibrant branded program graphics throughout the space that reflect student athlete dedication, team championships, and enthusiastic Bison fan spirit. The highlight of admissions and recruiting tours is an immersive experience featuring a 20’ tall Bison that looms larger than life and emits smoke from its nostrils to let everyone know that Bison athletes mean business.

Go Bison! Bleed Blue!


Howard Athletic Director Kery Davis Found Formula for Bison’s Success

Howard Athlete Reveal

Practicing at The Burr