Is there a more intriguing partnership than architects and chefs working together to create edible buildings?
Seattle has been doing just that — during the last 25 years, the Seattle Sheraton Hotel has been bringing together the city’s architectural community to design and work with culinary staff to create themed displays made from gingerbread, icing, and candy.
These complex creations have nothing to do with what most people think of when we they hear about gingerbread houses.
Instead these are massive works of art with elaborate mechanical elements, integrated lighting displays, and interior scaffolding. They range from entire towns to huge ships, and each year the creative energy is centered on a different theme. Recent year’s themes have included Star Wars, Children’s Book Stories, Nursery Rhymes and iconic train stations around the world.
Participating architectural firms over the years have included MulvannyG2 Architecture, Weber Thompson, Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties & Gelotte Hommas Architecture, Callison, DLR Group and 4D Architects, Inc.
The 2017 display moved in a new direction and explored the world of imagination and science fiction — The mandate was to both imagine the Seattle of 100 years ago and a century into the future. Each display was created by a local architect paired with a food artist from the Sheraton.
According to the organizer of the display, John Armstrong, Executive Chef at the hotel, “We look at them all from a children’s perspective.” For the projects that focused on the city’s future, all three showed a city that is underwater — and some of the designs are extreme. The architectural firms were Mackenzie, 4D Architects, and MG2. This year the displays were moved from the lobby of the Seattle Sheraton Hotel, to a location across the street — City Centre — to accommodate the thousands of visitors that usually visit
Mackenzie and Future North Seattle.
Future North Seattle’s project was created by the team of Mackenzie and Chef David Mestl. Mackenzie’s design imagined a completely underwater scenario, with the Space Needle submerged. and surrounded by coral made from Froot Loops and Cheetos. Here the gingerbread structures included a spinning Space Needle, and a space bus, which presumably takes you to an oxygenless gingerbread void.
MG2 and Future Downtown Seattle
The Future Dwntown Seattle team was MG2 Architects and Chef Joleen Anderson. The MG2 project showed an underwater transit system with a bulbous jellyfish below the surface that dwarfed an underwater train. The view of the city almost recalled HG Wells’ 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The downtown skyline of the Atlantis-inspired piece featured towering luminescent buildings of candy casting shadows over smooth blown sugar waters. Circling on its tracks below is the Monorail, still apparently a mode of transportation in the future.
4D Architects and Future South Seattle
The Futuristic South Seattle project was created by 4D Architects and Chef Jay Sardeson. The design still acknowledged a rising sea level,– but with less dramatic results.. Above the waterline, familiar structures are built primarily of gingerbread — Smith Tower, King Street Station. But new structures, consisting mostly of melted and molded Isomalt — a sugar substitute made from beets — rise even further above, taking twisting shapes, inspired by both the past and by the architect’s imagination.
In an interview with Curbed Seattle, Ben Mulder, principal and designer at 4D Architects, described some of the thoughts behind his design. “It is another way of being creative,” he explained. “In my profession I have to be an adult and follow all sorts of rules every day [like zoning and client wishes]… here there are very few rules. I just have to make sure it fits out the door.”
Next to the Smith Tower is a futuristic take on what used to be Seattle’s tallest skyscraper. Another, facing the water, draws inspiration from the bow of a boat. A tall, spinning building stands out among the newer buildings. Mulder said “it’s a residential high-rise that would make a pretty penny, because you can sell all units as water view. (It was only after he conceived the structure, Mulder said, that he learned that this idea was already in the works.)
4D also shared a similar vision of the future as many Sonics fans: In this future, Chris Hansenf’s vision for an arena in Sodo is a reality. The Sounders get their own stadium, shaped like half a soccer ball and gently rotating,. An unnamed hockey team also gets a stadium of its own.
An elevated bus lane connects the towers at mid-height, although the State Route 99 tunnel, currently under construction, is still present. – All we’re going to have left are buses,said Mulder,and hovering Priuses.
Armstrong has overseen the year-long project for the past six displays “The day that the last one is rolled out, on that day people are saying, ‘What are we doing next year?’”
Additional images are available at Seattle Cubed website at: