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Gensler Dallas Creates First LIVE Pop Up Architectural Studio in a Mall

Image © Gensler

This week, Gensler Dallas participated in RETROSPECT, an annual AIA Dallas program at NorthPark Center intended to familiarize the general public with the role of architects and designers. Typically RETROSPECT includes three dimensional installations designed by area architects, but this year Gensler went way beyond creating a static pylon and launched the first ever LIVE exhibit.

Within Gensler’s pop-up studio, Gensler Dallas staff members will be interacting with mall visitors and engaging them in concepting and designing a pop up retail space for Paper for Water, a local charity that exchanges origami for donations that bring clean water wells to Third World Countries. Passersby within NorthPark Mall can get a glimpse into the design process as the Gensler Dallas team goes through ideation, schematic design, design development and modeling inside the pop-up space.

“We pretty much broke all the rules,” said Gensler Dallas Design Director Kyle Jeffery. “All the other exhibits are objects with architect’s work on it. Ours is not about the design as a visual, but as a physical, emotional and memorable process that connects what we do with what we do for the people and community.”

The actual pop-up design uses laser-cut, stacked, corrugated cardboard to create a space that has transparency allowing people to glimpse inside and see what is going on. The design gives people a first-hand look into the architectural process. A flat screen hanging on the back wall runs a program designed and built by Stimulant, an interaction company that Gensler partnered with for the Reunion Tower project. The program populates a screen with snapshots taken during the design process and includes photos of mall participants.

“We will also be bringing in our 3D printer to print out the models being designed by the project – giving spectators in the mall a window into the architectural process,” said Gensler Graphic Designer Jean Wallace. The furniture and flooring for the space was donated by Herman Miller, Hill and Associates (Chilewich) and Knoll. The space will be open in NorthPark Mall until April 13.

The first night of RETROSPECT, Paper for Water founders Katherine and Isabelle Adams, joined the Gensler team to demonstrate their origami skills. Since founding the organization in 2011, the girls have raised $380,000 to fund over 40 wells in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia and India.

Paper for Water's primary mission is to bring water to the thirsty one piece of paper at a time. The mission was born out of the girl’s desire to help other girls in impoverished communities who do not get to go to school because they spend their days hauling water. Isabelle and Katherine learned that a child dies every 20 seconds from unclean water and they wanted to do something to help.

RETROSPECT is an annual public outreach event designed to promote architects, architecture, AIA Dallas and its activities to the community. Its purpose is to provide opportunities for public engagement and to promote interaction as a means of communicating each architect’s reflection of design and the built environment. Gensler has been a participant in the program for over 10 years.

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