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Gateway was the community newsletter of Pratt Institute published monthly by the Office of Communications, in the Division of Institutional Advancement through spring 2014. For current Pratt-related news, visit the News page on Pratt’s website.


Pratt Students Design Green Pavilion for Great GoogaMooga Brooklyn Food Extravaganza

L-R: Signage featuring Pratt at the UrBARN Experience; the UrBARN structure was a central part of the Great GoogaMooga.

A group of seven Pratt undergraduate and graduate students, under the guidance of Mark Parsons, production director and adjunct assistant professor in the undergraduate architecture program, collaborated to design one of the showpiece exhibition spaces for last month’s Great GoogaMooga food festival, which featured about 150 food and drink vendors and drew tens of thousands of people.

The students were engaged by the exhibition-design firm The Rockwell Group to design the concept for UrBARN, a green pavilion featured at the two-day event in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.  Constructed in the center of the festival, the UrBARN hosted cooking demonstrations, as well as workshops and exhibitions on nutrition, sustainability, and local eating.

To come up with initial ideas, Debera Johnson, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Design Studies, facilitated a day-long design jam attended by 40 people. The students listened to the sponsor’s and client’s needs, as well as potential limitations; for instance, they wanted not only an eye-catching structure, but one that would be easy to transport, build in two days, then reconstruct at future sites.

The Pratt team had a week to come up with four ideas, which they presented to The Rockwell Group, as well as to the festival’s organizer, Superfly Presents, and non-profit sponsor Just Food.

“The students had to be articulate and clear about their direction,” said Johnson. “They had only five minutes to make each presentation. The idea was to get the client visually interested in their ideas and then answer questions about how each one could be constructed,” said Johnson.

UrBARN’s design, which Johnson describes as a “line drawing made from timber” was intended to have the shape and color of a traditional red barn—but was crowned with the shape of the urban skyline.

“The UrBARN showed the clear connection between farming and the locally made food we eat,” said Parsons, who also called the experience "unparalleled."

“This kind of experience is an incredible opportunity for students to test what they are learning in school in a real-world setting—from working directly with highly respected clients, to working within the parameters of a budget and time frame, to gaining insight into the values that influence how the client selects and responds to the strongest ideas,” he said. “Only three months after the design jam, the student team's design was constructed in full scale—and enjoyed by thousands of people. It was incredibly satisfying for everyone who took part in this project.”

Text: Abigail Beshkin
Photos: Abigail Beshkin

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