Gingerbread Architecture

Guest Post by MGLM’s Gingerbread Starchitect Mallory Mecham

Dec. 24, 2013

December is a time of year filled with holiday traditions, from the religious to the secular to the…architectural?

In my family, gingerbread is a tradition we take very seriously. Each year on Thanksgiving, we’d break out the bottles of molasses and bags of powdered sugar and whip up several batches of gingerbread and royal icing. We’d make a village that included four small, basic gabled-roof houses and one large church, complete with a steeple and stained glass window.

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Over the years, my interest in architecture grew, and our villages grew more and more elaborate.

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We diversified our patterns, added dormers and chimneys, and got more creative in the styles of the houses.

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It seemed a natural progression to apply this family tradition to the work we’re doing in the office. This year I made a quarter-scale model of an Arts & Crafts house that the office had designed for a competition.

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It has a lot of great architectural elements that presented some interesting challenges for the gingerbread/icing construction method – bay windows, columns, engaged dormers, a cantilevered wing with arches and brackets – but as in full-scale architecture, it was these details that really made the gingerbread house special. The following are some photos of the process:

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And some photos of it all coming together.

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As you can see, it has its similarities to actual construction! Foundations, walls, then the roof.

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Despite a few mishaps – broken walls, misshapen edges, and a near collapse – the house came together.

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While it may not stand the test of time (it is gingerbread, after all), it brought some holiday cheer to the office and some novelty to a time-honored tradition.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all from MGLM Architects!

A Machine for Turning Coffee into Designs

How does MGLM make it through demanding (and sometimes unrealistic) deadlines? With the world’s most popular drug of course. To paraphrase the Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos, here at MGLM an architect is a machine for turning coffee into designs. We recently used these to help complete more than 40 art glass designs.

MGLM and Lavazza Cremespresso

Our preferred delivery system, and coffee of choice in deadline conditions, is Lavazza’s Cremespresso. The coffee purveyors at our local Lavazza Espression – 27 W. Washington St., Chicago – know us by sight. We need an account there.

Note to Lavazza: we are now accepting sponsorships!

In the beginning…

MGLM Architects has a passion for all things designed.  Our focus and training has been in Architecture, Urban Design, and Ornament but the desire to bring beauty to all things has expanded our work to include the arts, furniture, textile, and industrial design.  MGLM approaches each project individually, analyzing and evaluating the challenges specifically, and designing solutions uniquely tailored to resolve the issues.

A little bit about us: we enjoy challenges, obstacles, and Portillo’s Beef-n-Cheddar Croissant (but we disagree on the peppers).  We are passionate about design, sketching, painting, woodworking, and chocolate.  We love Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Arts & Crafts, and Art. We have an affinity to Voltron and the Ghostbusters.  We work late and enjoy outdoing one another at costume parties.  We believe nothing beats a Lavazza Cremespresso and a soft macaron, except a happy client.  We are prone to superlatives but we always mean it. What some might call fantastic, we call design-as-usual.  We hope that you will contact us to see what we can do for you and your particular project.

In the meantime, please enjoy the posts here.  We intend this to be a collection of the things that inspire and impassion us.  We hope to spend some time highlighting projects, issues, ideas, fantastic (and sometimes horrible) details, and things we find interesting.