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Presentation Matters

2011/10/18, by , under blog, drawing, marketing, models, photography, promotion, visualization

Discussing the importance of  presentations is a priority for a website and blog dedicated to promoting the specialists who provide their clients great architectural presentations.  The concept of how presentation matters and impacts of both winning and losing presentations is sure to be the subject of many blogs and discussions on the site.  I had intended the initial blog on Presenting Architecture to be on this topic but am happy I waited as the presentation I am starting off with has much to discuss.

A recent article I found through Archnewsnow.com was a criticism of Frank Gehry’s proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC. Avoiding everything related to the design of what was presented, the proposal has not gone over well and actually spurred a public competition sponsored by the National Civic Art Society (skewed towards conservative design) of alternative ideas for what the Memorial should be. The juxtaposition of how Gehry’s office presented and what the public threw out there in the competition highlights what I view as cold presentations verses warm presentations.

Let’s take a look at what was presented from both Gehry’s office and some of the competition entries.

First a video from Todd C Wiggins showing the Gehry presentation.


The Gehry presentation showing the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission studying the model and some presentation images onscreen.  This picture really shows why models are still used, they facilitate a discussion at which everyone can see, point and talk about the project.

While the model clearly helped Gehry present the design to an audience, the photos of it that were used seem cold and the scale of the project is difficult to understand.  Almost no information about building materials or even clues were given.  Although still early on in the design, a hint of materials not just a child’s building blocks and better pedestrian level views would help viewers understand the pedestrian experience.


Was it a surprise that the reaction to the presentation was bad?  No, this concept was simply not presented in its best light.

Here are a few of the competition entries, most well presented, put together with substantially fewer resources than Gehry most likely had.  They present a warm feel that is easily understandable to the general public.

 Sylvester Bartos and Whitley Esteban

 Scott Collison

In contrast, to the Gehry proposal above, below is an early concept illustration by Presenting Architecture member Chris Grubbs of the recently dedicated Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. The completed Memorial is close to what Chris illustrated in such a wonderful way which was presented and approved early on.

        REUTERS/Jason Reed

What I view as the good and bad of each presentation are of course my opinion, you are invited to add your own observations in the comment area at the bottom.  Please try and focus on the presentations, not the designs.