Behind the Scenes: Architects as Retrospect Exhibit Builders

Clemente Jaquez is a Designer at RTKL Associates, AIA, NCARB. He is also the Design Advocate for RTKL Dallas and is currently the Chair for AIA Dallas Latinos in Architecture. Rickey Crum is a Designer at RTKL and Team Leader for RTKL’s 2013 Retrospect Exhibition.

Coming up with a RETROSPECT exhibit provides a creative opportunity for young designers within our firm to step outside of the realm of our everyday working environment to design and build an installation with their own hands. RTKL has made a commitment to fund our Retrospect participation for the past few years, and we continue to challenge what this 3’x3’x8’ exhibit can be.

Recently, most of our designers have been extremely busy on projects, so finding time to come together and talk about Retrospect has been a challenge on its own. In the beginning of the design process, we gathered at least twice a week during lunchtime to brainstorm and discuss possible solutions. As the installation date neared, we started to meet every day during lunchtime and after work. The entire design/build process was completed over a period of about 4 weeks.

In order to meet our goal of establishing a design direction, team members had to work on a continuous basis to discuss and modify ideas. The direction of our exhibit was chosen based on its ability to communicate this year’s theme,“The Value of Architecture,” and our ability to build it within our budget by the installation date.

With such a broad and open-ended theme as “The Value of Architecture,” we first began the design process by defining the core concepts we attribute to the “value added” through the practice of architecture. Although the list was long, we focused on three concepts: experience, interactivity, and performance. These concepts helped the team to question their own design process and determine end goals we wanted to achieve.

Architecture is experiential. How can we begin to augment the user’s experience in an unexpected and potentially exciting way?

Architecture is interactive. How can we engage the user? Is it through a physical user interface (i.e. direct manipulation), or is it more about evoking a sense of exploration and discovery (i.e. the “Wow” moment, or the moment of rationalization)

Architecture performs. How does our exhibit perform? What are its constraints—materials, assembly, etc.? How can it perform better?

Using these three concepts, the team developed a design that begins to decompose the 3’x3’x8’ box that we are given, and create unique spatial experiences in and around the exhibit. A series of faceted acrylic panels seemingly lean out over their audience in an effortless, albeit slightly unsettling way. A one-way reflective film is applied to a few key panels revealing a multi-layered system and providing a sense of ambiguity/curiosity as one walks around the exhibit. Coupled with carefully positioned graphics, the exhibit has moments of discovery as you come across views that reveal the graphics in their entirety.

It was important to the team to have complete creative freedom and the ability to experiment with innovative techniques and ideas. This inherently led to some trial and error, but the final result has left the team with a great sense of satisfaction and pride in achieving the goals that we set for ourselves and creating a truly unique and innovative solution. Final installation pictures to come!

 

 

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