Last year I was honored to create two replicas of the Pittsburgh City County Building for the office of the Mayor to celebrate the new home of the Pittsburgh Gingerbread House Competition. The version above was created for the Mayor's official office. Using original architectural drawings, we tried to make the building as historically and proportionally accurate as possible. To create this complex project, we enlisted one of the local high tech companies that thrive in the Pittsburgh region to make it a truly collaborative effort combining both new and traditional techniques.
This larger version was created for the entrance lobby to greet visitors to the public exhibition of the 2019 Gingerbread Competition now located within the Pittsburgh City County Building. The exhibition was on display until January 3, 2020. We hope you had a chance to come and see all the wonderful displays.
The Mayor's office has informed us that they will be storing our buildings until next year's display, so if you missed it this year, please come see it next November after Light Up Night.
The office of the Mayor provided source photos and scans of the original architectural drawings of the building from 1915.
Individual gingerbread panels were baked of "construction grade" edible gingerbread and were almost 1/2" thick. There were over 14 panels created for this project using over 45 lbs. of flour, over 4 dozen eggs, 4 lbs. of honey, and 15 lbs. of sugar.
After scaling and translating the original plans into simplified working drawings to create the structure, the files were transfered into a program an industrial laser cutter could use to cut the large gingerbread panels one by one. Even with a high speed laser, the panels took over 14 hours of cutting time. Our thanks go out to Carnegie Robotics in Lawrenceville, PA for all their help with this project! Especially our chief gingerbread cutting engineer Nick Bland.
Pictured is one of the finished panels after etching and cutting all the details. Due to the large number of openings and the overall size of the gingerbread, special care was needed to handle the panels before the sugar windows were poured which added structural support to the panels. Some of the panels measured over 22" in length and 15" in height.
Once all the panels were cut, the detailing and assembly began. A substructure and base were created to handle the internal lighting and weight of the building. The etching was enhanced, then moldings and details were added with royal icing piping and gingerclay.
Over 7 lbs. of isomalt were poured for the individual windows and doors. Columns, window mullions and other three dimensional items were added to enhance the final look of the building.
When the buildings were assembled, the final moldings, stairs, and planters were added, along with the trees, wreaths, snow, and sidewalks to create a magical holiday feel. Then it was time to turn the lights on and transport the buildings carefully to their new home in time for Light Up Night!
A special thank you to our friends at Carnegie Robotics in Lawrenceville, PA for your patience and time in helping to create this project. A Special thank you to John Bares, Nick Bland, and Nolan Stephenson.
Thank you to former Mayor Bill Peduto and James Hill, Executive Assistant to the Mayor, for this opportunity, and facilitating its creation.