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Engaging communities + Inspiring vision

Gingerbread Design Competition 2017

Every December, hundreds of guests flock to BSA Space to view the confectionary creations of architecture, interior design, and urban planning firms. Now in its sixth year, the Gingerbread Design Competition is a fun and tasty way to highlight the delicious talents of Boston firms, to challenge the designers to explore a new medium, and to raise funds for the community design programs of the BSA Foundation.

Throughout the month of December, BSA Space was filled with 14 Gingerbread “houses” interpreting the theme: “Innovations and Firsts,” celebrating 150 years of Boston as a hub of innovation. From the largest jar of Marshmallow Fluff to the oldest functioning windmill in the United States, each one of the gingerbread creations was able to convey the novelty of its subject. The houses attracted an immense amount of foot traffic through the gallery during the holiday season.

This event also serves as a unique fundraiser in that all “votes” for the designs are made via donations. Bids of any amount (in $5 increments) were accepted online at The house that gathered the greatest amount of donations by the December 18th reception got to take home the coveted Golden Spatula. The house that gathered the greatest number of bids—of any amount—was also declared victorious of the Golden Whisk. Despite strong competition up to the final hours, Silverman Trykowski Associates’ Boston’s Underground Routes pulled ahead with the largest amount of donations winning the Golden Spatula, and Finegold Alexander Architects’ The Sweetest First Church received the Golden Whisk with the largest number of bids. Congratulations!

This year’s panel of celebrity judges devised creative prizes of their own at the reception for the Gingerbread Reception. The panel of judges included: Brendan Ciecko, Founder of Cuseum; Sarah Kennedy, Service Manager at No.9 Park; and Louise Kennedy, Senior Arts Producer at WBUR.

Each of the celebrity judges picked a Judges Choice house as well as two or three “honorable mentions.” Brendan Ciecko presented his Judge’s Choice award for “Surgical Precision in Architecture” to ARC’s Boston’s Sweet Medical Advances. Ciecko’s second Judge’s Choice for “So good it would convert an atheist” award was given to Finegold Alexander Architects’ The Sweetest First Church.  An honorable mention for “A lot of people like windmills, they’re big fans” was awarded to TRO’s Mill on the Hill. Second honorable mention for “McKim, Mead, and White Christmas” went to ACENTECH for Boston Sweet Symphony. Ciecko’s third honorable mention for “Best Display of High Fructose Corn Syrup” was presented to designLab Architects for What the Fluff?

Sarah Kennedy presented her Judge’s Choice award to the creation that was “Most Realistic/Mise en Scene,” which Goody Clancy took home for their construction, Ginger Baker and the Chocolate Factory. An honorable mention for “Best Gingerbread Manipulation/Most Anxiety Inducing” was given to Cannon Design for Beacon. A second honorable mention for “Most UNimproved” was given to KT did Marketing, LLC. for Park Street Station.

The voting ended at midnight on December 31, and raised over $8,600 for Community Design programs of the BSA Foundation. With $2,725 across 96 donations on their Boston landmark The Sweetest First Church, Finegold Alexander Architects raised the most money at the end of the exhibition, securing themselves the first annual “MVG” win, or Most Valuable Gingerbread. Learn more about the Finegold Alexander team’s design process—including how much candy the team consumed in the construction of the church—here.

This good fun supports serious work. Community design programs of the BSA Foundation provide design assistance to neighborhoods and community organizations in need, and work to bring neighborhood voices into larger design and planning processes. During the past year, the BSA Foundation has been involved in projects in Roslindale, East Boston, Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan, working on issues from climate resiliency to healthy schoolyards to affordable neighborhood housing.

Thank you to these architecture firms for their inspired baking (in alphabetical order):

  • Acentech (Cambridge)
  • ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge (Boston)
  • Bergmeyer (Boston)
  • Cannon Design (Boston)
  • designLab Architects (Boston)
  • Finegold Alexander Architects (Boston)
  • Goody Clancy (Boston)
  • KT did Marketing, LLC. (Quincy)
  • Miller Dyer Spears (Boston)
  • Perkins Eastman Architects (Boston)
  • Schwartz/Silver Architects (Boston)
  • Silverman Trykowski Associates (Boston)
  • TBA Architects, Inc. (Concord)
  • TRO (Boston)

Image: Gingerbread Design Competition 2017, projects designed by Perkins Eastman Architects (front) and Finegold Alexander Architects (rear).

To learn more about how the BSA Foundation is making an impact in communities, please come to BSA Space for a one hour “tour” of BSA Foundation programs. On the tour, board members and volunteers will tell stories about how Foundation programs, and the power of design, are positively changing the lives of real people. BSA Foundation Conversation meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month. Events are free, but seats are limited. Check for upcoming dates and to reserve your seat.