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Reinventing gingerbread architecture – a holiday design contest

Happy Holidays from LEO A DALY!

A mysterious RFP came in over the LEO A DALY transom from a K. Kringle & Assoc. located at the North Pole. The design brief called for workplace design schemes that reimagine the “gingerbread” typology, producing a modern workplace that meets the live/work/play needs of today’s creative workforce in a sustainable, wellness-oriented campus.

In other words, Santa needs a new workshop!

We asked our design studios all over the country create edible models, and enlisted a panel of celebrated pastry chefs to judge. The winning design team received $5000 to donate to a local charity of their choice.

Our judges were Erin Schwartz of Stacked; Van French of Van Earl’s Cakes; Shantel Der Boghosian of Shakar Bakery; as well as LEO A DALY president Steven Lichtenberger and chairman Leo A. Daly, III.

And the winner is:


Washington, DC

The $5000 prize money will be donated to My Sister’s Place, a nonprofit seeking to end domestic violence and empower survivors to live healthy, independent lives free from violence.

The proposed building for the new North Pole Workplace Headquarters strips the classic gingerbread house down to its basic characteristics and adds an updated twist (literally), in order to honor the evolution of time while meeting the needs of the modern elves and reindeer. The site consists of three interlocking dwellings; merging the live-work-play needs of the today’s creative workforce. The GingerHAUS sits seamless within the snowcapped scenery of the North Pole. Each building is an elongated representation of the traditional gable-roof gingerbread house, which, when stack together create a new form in the landscape. By exposing natural gingerbread materials, the shape and form of the building can shine through, highlighting the construction process; an homage to the diligent craftsmanship put into each toy that will come out of the North Pole Workplace Headquarters.


Runners-up include:

The Borealis Palace

Omaha, NE

Second place & People’s Choice (voted on by LEO A DALY employees)

The Borealis Palace leaves a small footprint, with 90 percent of it housed inside a mountain. This innovation harmonizes with the environment and sustainably reduces energy consumption. Its placement high above the shoreline provides resilience against rising sea levels.

An iconic, multi-level façade elevates K. Kringle’s brand. When lighted, it is reminiscent of the region’s famous aurora borealis. Walkable platforms created by each level include a runway for reindeer. Stakeholder charrettes ensured groundside mobility and airfield geometries built for modern, jumbo sleighcraft.

Meanwhile, panoramic views from workshop floors number among the facility’s wELFness features. While K. Kringle’s noble purpose has long attracted creative talent, retaining employees increasingly requires an attractive and fun workplace.

A shipping/receiving dock serves as another wELFness feature. When not servicing commercial vessels, it invites workday recreation and contemplation. Walkable infrastructure links the dock to the main workshop as well as trails inside the adjacent gumdrop forest.


 Clerestory Workplace

Dallas, TX

Third place

The sustainable, collaborative workplace with all the comforts of home.

Our design team took the client’s goals of bringing their iconic corporate headquarters into the next generation and created a true live-work-play destination for all employees.

The mid-century modern architectural features of the structure marry the idea of nostalgia and function. The design emphasizes the mid-century modern elements such as ample windows and open floor plans, with the intention of opening up interior spaces and bringing the outdoors in.The inversion of the cantilevered butterfly roof allows for rainwater collection.

The lower floor serves as the workshop area and Reindeer stables. Open spaces allow for collaboration.

The upper level is a living space that takes “resimmercial” to the next level. A clerestory allows for natural daylight to pour in and saves on electricity.

A courtyard on the front lawn features a fireplace where employees can hang out and shake off the stresses of the day. A water-wheel in the nearby river functions as a turbine to generate more green electricity.


Lutefisk Processing Ice House

Minneapolis, MN

Inspired by K. Kringle’s Norwegian and Swedish origins came an idea unlike the rest; A multi-disciplinary and transformative Lutefisk Processing Ice House.

Team members from all specialties were utilized on the project, which features duct work, lights, and sprinklers.  The Lutefisk Processing Ice House modernizes traditional facilities. A conveyor belt eases the transition of Lutefisk from water to warehouse. The elves’ stressful roles of collecting and transferring Lutefisk is now simplified by designs like the conveyor belt.

Together, our iconic design simplifies the processing needs of Lutefisk, alleviates stress from the elves, and establishes a strong multi-disciplinary gingerbread model.


A Workplace in Time

Atlanta, GA

Based upon the notion that children’s laughter is what the holidays is truly about, our team designed K. Kringle’s workshop at his North Pole corporate headquarters. The dynamic form of the structure was inspired by observing sound waves of joyous laughter from children across the globe. We sourced the geometry from these waves, creating a series of smaller workspaces that are subdivided into a grid representing the North Pole Workshop District. We considered the regional and environmental constraints of the site, concluding with a sustainable design similar to an igloo that can retain heat and use local materials (mostly ice) for construction. Resulting from climate changes, the melting ice signifies the brevity of the holidays, and hence is only a workplace in time.