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.

Michaela Althouse
Editorial Fellow

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