Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of participating in Gingertown, one of DC’s best kept holiday events. Begun in 2006, Gingertown is the brainchild of locally based David M. Schwarz Architects (DMSA) and brings together leading DC architects, designers, and architectural firms with other building enthusiasts (aka: the non-professionals) to create a town made of completely of gingerbread and candy goodness.
Gingertown is an entirely free event with DMSA and other event sponsors providing all the building materials, food and beverages. Teams sign up beforehand and are assigned town plots with free reign to design and construct their portion of Gingertown during the 3 hour event.
Each year, a new master plan and theme is created; this year, builders tackled the North Pole, transforming the layout into a magical town of gingerbread, jelly beans, Twizzlers, Nerds, candy canes, buttercream frosting, etc. Like previous years, the 2010 town map included communal and civic-minded centers, green spaces, city hall, a concert hall, a library, a toy store and a strong pedestrian culture.
Once Gingertown is complete, the entire structure is put on display at local hospitals, health care facilities and community support organizations to help spread the message of joy and hope during the holidays. Donations are also collected during the build out with 100% of all those received donated to the 2010 recipient charities.
Last year I showed up to Gingertown without any plan. Bad idea. So this year I was determined to have some sort of concept prepared ahead of time. Unfortunately, the triangular shape of our plot did not suit our pre-planned Georgetown townhouse concept, so we settled on building a two-story condo with a rooftop pool. Yes, we non-architects were going to gentrify Gingertown.
With two years worth of Gingertown experience under my belt, I’ve now learned that the best and worst laid plans don’t necessarily work out, especially when you have no architectural experience. At Gingertown, you will find both the serious architectural gingerbread enthusiasts, who come prepared with schematics and premade ornaments, and those of us non-architectural mortals.
After two hours of sticky, gingery fun with lots of toothpicks, popsicle sticks and mountains of royal icing, our condo stood strong with a glistening blue rock candy pool. Now came the moment of truth when we would transfer the structure from our work table to the town. While we made the transfer seamlessly, our condo crumbled within minutes of arriving. Perhaps if my teammates and I had heeded the story of the Tower of Babel, our structure may have survived. However, I can without a doubt say,we would not have had so much fun and laughter building it. With our condo in ruins, we decided to put our plot up for sale. Literally. Success? Or a sign of the times?