Gingerbread 2016

You wouldn’t think it, but one of the most hectic times of the year in our architecture firm is the annual Gingerbread display in December.  Started before my time here in 1987, the ‘Display’ as it is known has grown from a simple gingerbread house display on a countertop to an immersive, larger than life experience.  The original objective was to create a fun activity for our clients at our annual Holiday party held each year in the first week of December.  Every year we say it is too big and should be simplified, and every year it gets just as big, in one way or another.
A lot of people spent a lot of time on the display.

This year, the idea was to do a simple streetscape in the city, 3 story townhouses in an ‘L’ shape.  Sounds good, right?  Until the scale of the display doubles from 3/8” = 1’-0” to 3/4” where the size of a 6 foot tall person in the display grew from just over 2 inches to 4 1/2”.  For someone who makes a lot of the people for the display, this was a big deal.  Normally we can reuse a lot of the people from year to year.  A Santa from last year is just as good as a new Santa.  But not this year.  All the people to populate the display had to be made from scratch and twice as large.

The simplicity of the theme this year was diluted by the idea to include some “Underground” activities, even though these ideas were not really hashed out.  During the initial meetings, all that was discussed was a ‘Rat City”, which I thought was distinctly Un-Christmassy.  So when it came to sign up for Display entries, rather than doing a house I decided to work on the Underground, to make it more festive than a subterranean city of mutant rats.
I don’t know when exactly I got the idea, but I think I Googled something like “Santa on the Subway” and I came up with this picture:

The concept photo (credit:BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

One way to enliven the Underground was to fill it with dozens of Santas.  To be clear, the intent was to have a subway station stop with all the department store Santas getting off work and on their way home to their own families.  So I thought that several of us could work on doing a subway station, since that fit well with the Underground theme and as part of it, I could make a lot of the Santas to fill the platform. 

Along with one other co-worker and my two kids, we embarked on creating a Subway scene for the Display.
Step One:  Make Fondant Santas.
Step Two:  Make more Santas.
Starting the Subway car and platform.
The completed platform.
Santas headed home.  If you look really hard, you’ll see Where’s Waldo.
Simple, huh?
We thought this looked like the clock tower from Back to the Future, so we made Doc Brown & the DeLorean.
No Display is complete without a dragon!
The movie theater has a working tablet showing the Mickey Mouse movie on the inside.
There you have it, one simplified Display.  Hopefully next year we don’t decide to simplify it too much more.  It’ll be life sized.

If you’re interested in the whole process of the Display, start to finish, I wrote a series of posts describing it starting here:  Gingerbread 2013: Part one