Things to Do

DC Is Having an Elaborate Gingerbread House Competition—for Actual Architects and Engineers

You can see (but not taste) their ornate creations at 1500 K Street.

Gingertown DC in 2018. All photographs courtesy of David M. Schwarz Architects.

Gingerbread houses are a fun seasonal staple for pretty much everyone—except architects, who must suffer through all sorts of under-engineered amateur constructions with phony good cheer. But now DC’s building professionals finally have their own outlet: Gingertown DC.

Created by the architecture firm David M. Schwarz, Gingertown is an annual competition for local architecture, real estate, and engineering groups. Contestants have three hours to craft a completely edible structure based on their expertise. This year’s theme is Venice, which gives competitors the opportunity to address climate change and create sinking buildings amid blue-jellybean rivers.

The engineering firm Walter P. Moore has participated in the competition for the last eight years; senior associate Tom Yost says preparations begin about a month before the event and include foamcore models and scale calculations. Building with Necco wafers and other goodies is fun but also a sweet challenge. “As structural engineers, a lot of the time we’re just dealing with concrete and steel,” Yost says. “This is a good chance for us to flex our architectural muscle.”

The actual competition is open only to contestants, but finished creations will be on public display at 1500 K Street the following week. Sorry, no tasting.

Gingertown DC will be held on December 3 at 5:30PM.

Photograph by Kris Connor/Getty Images.

A version of this article appears in the December 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

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Michaela Althouse
Editorial Fellow

Michaela Althouse is an editorial fellow for the Washingtonian. Her previous work has been featured in Philadelphia Magazine and Technical.ly.