About Strada

Strada means “street” in Italian. Streets matter to us. They’re the fundamental infrastructure of our cities and the core of our civic lives. They’re the connections between buildings, people, and public spaces. This is why we’re so inspired by them and it’s a shared commitment to these values that brought our principals together. Just as people mingle on city streets, our office is a place where we freely exchange ideas, challenging and inspiring one another to create exceptional work.

Latest Post

Strada Elevates Abby Mountain to Senior Associate

02.2018

Strada, an industry leader in cross-disciplinary design, is excited to announce the elevation of Abby Mountain to Senior Associate. “Abby has been instrumental to Strada’s growth and success since 2002, and we are thrilled to advance her to this important position,” said Al Cuteri, firm principal and human resources leader. Abby joined Strada nearly 16 ...

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Storytelling in Architecture: Learning from Pixar

02.2015Building, Ideas, Uncategorized
By Grace Ding

Story is important in architecture. It is seen in how a new building continues the story of an existing place. It is used verbally to convey how a design was developed. And it is experienced as one moves through the resulting spaces of a project. Story is everywhere, whether we are aware of it or not. When harnessed, it can be a powerful tool for architects.

In general, our firm makes a conscious effort to think about the story of our architectural designs. Since we are a multidisciplinary firm, I thought it might be a fun experiment to look at some other guidelines for storytelling and see what we can learn from them. One list that I particularly like is “Pixar’s 22 Storytelling Guidelines.” Although this list is tailored toward the film industry, the list offers a few points that I personally want to remember.

#22. What’s the essence of your story? Build out from there. To me, this tip reminds us to return to home base in the midst of making all the logical adjustments. I’ve found it easy to lose track of the concepts of a design while taking care of the little pieces that need to be solved. Presentations too can get lost in describing minor adjustments. And we should also take care to remember the essence of a project when we present as well.

At Google 2.0, the rollercoaster stair brings drama and fun into an office space, creating a playful atmosphere that mirrors the innovation for which Google is known.

At Google 2.0, the rollercoaster stair brings drama and fun into an office space, creating a playful atmosphere that mirrors the innovation for which Google is known.

#4. “Once upon a time there was ____. Every day, _____. One day ______. Because of that, _______. Because of that, _______. Until finally_______. Every story in the world can be boiled down to this formula. Pick any movie and try it out for yourself. For a presentation, this format could help us illustrate how we got from point A to point B. But for design, it could also be a helpful tactic to break down the important parts and identify what the story is as one moves through the space we create.

#5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. In terms of movies, it makes sense not to have too many characters to keep track of. In architecture, this could mean limiting the themes in our designs, or limiting points in a discussion with clients.

#2. Keep in mind what is important to the audience. What is fun to the writer and to the audience can be very different. This tip is mostly self-explanatory. The nature of our job as designers dictates that we consider what is important to the end user. However, I still think it’s good to remember that our interests might not align with what is most important to the project.

#9. When you’re stuck make a list of what won’t happen next. I’ve never done this during the design process, but it seems like it could be a helpful way to get out of a jam.

After contemplating all of Pixar’s Storytelling Guidelines, I realized that there are specific differences in the roles of storyteller and architect. While authors have the freedom to control and change all aspects of their stories, we as architects and designers continue a true story begun by others that is told through history. Designers are one part of a team effort and only actively control a piece of the story. But while these guidelines might be most applicable for authors and film writers, we too can gain from learning how others tell a good story.

Market Square Place is a story about preservation. Restoring the separate facades at Market Square was a deliberate choice to honor the site's history. Even the details, like the recovered signage in the interiors, harken back to the original place.

Market Square Place is a story about preservation. Restoring the separate facades at Market Square was a deliberate choice to honor the site’s history. Even the details, like the recovered signage in the interiors, harken back to the original place.

These are just a few of the tips that were mentioned. But feel free to read the complete list here. Maybe you’ll find more tips and pointers that apply specifically to your work.

Grace Ding is a graduate from the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture. Outside of work, Grace has a hard time deciding what she loves to do more. She does illustrations for weddings and magazines, animation backgrounds, designs logos, draws comics, makes greeting cards, and recently picked up rubber stamp making.

Strada Elevates Abby Mountain to Senior Associate

02.2018Firm news, People
By Street Talk Editor

Strada, an industry leader in cross-disciplinary design, is excited to announce the elevation of Abby Mountain to Senior Associate. “Abby has been instrumental to Strada’s growth and success since 2002, and we are thrilled to advance her to this important position,” said Al Cuteri, firm principal and human resources leader. Abby joined Strada nearly 16 ...
Read more >>

The Craft of Story Building

02.2018Design, Ideas, Places
By Mason Radkoff, CSI/CCCA, LEED AP BD+C

A story’s form should be organic— the moves it makes, the shape it takes. Initial visions of setting, theme, voice, and plot emerge as the writer intuits what the story needs without the anchor of minutia holding things back. Art is made.
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