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Celebrate the Holidays With Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread houses are often associated with winter holiday traditions. Originating in Germany in the 1800s, these houses have become one of the most deep-rooted traditions in America, bringing families and friends joy and great spirits.

Dana Hall has built a project each year to make gingerbread houses. The project was first suggested by a former student called Maddie Chisholm. “She was a sophomore when she suggested this student project,” said Mr. Frassinelli, Architecture class teacher and head of the art department. From then, it has been a tradition for students in Architecture class to work on this craft project.

As stated by Mr. Frassinelli, it is a long-standing tradition to have a gingerbread house for Christmas and winter break. The makings of the gingerbread house always takes place in the beginning of December. “We have this time (three weeks) between Thanksgiving and Christmas, perfect amount of time to design, make models, bake, and construct the houses. People love the smell of the houses, it is also a great way to learn, design, or model building.” On one hand, everyone, especially Mr. Frassinelli, seems very fond of this project as students demonstrate their creativity and come up with various unconventional gingerbread houses. “They don’t look like the traditional ones. Students use their own design senses that can be modern or influenced by other architectures from other countries–it is like making a traditional project non-traditional,” he remarked. On the other hand, however, there is also a downside to this project. “It is always messy; the floor is sticky and there is a lot to clean up. Mr. Fraz also needs to make a lot of royal icing!” he said with a laugh.

Fah Keerasuntonpong ‘19 is one of the students in architecture class who participated in this project again this year. “People think making a gingerbread house is simple but it actually isn’t. You need to put in a lot of time and effort and composing this beautiful artwork,” she said.

Mr. Corrigan shows the Architecture students how the gingerbread dough is made. The right consistency is necessary in order for the houses to be strong enough to hold themselves up.

Thanks to Mr. Frassinelli, Mr. Corrigan, and the dining center staff, students are provided with the main ingredient of the house–gingerbread dough. This is made of molasses, ginger, and flour, and is often custom baked based on students’ designs. Students are also provided with sugar powder and egg whites to make their own royal icing, along with a variety of candies and food colors available to satisfy their needs.

Moving on from the “recipe,” the actual process of making the house also requires a great amount of patience and preparation. “One of the struggles I face would have to be cutting the pieces into exactly what I planned it out to be and placing them all together. When the gingerbread is baked, the pieces come out distorted and is hard for me to piece them together as some of it is smaller than others and some

A work in progress: architecture students sometimes struggle to wrestle the baked gingerbread into forms and structures that stand strong.

are bigger,” Fah said, “However, this does not stop me from enjoying this project.” Despite various difficulties, this project is still a lot of fun; “Making the icing, eating it, and decorating the gingerbread are the best parts. Especially the decorating part–I go all out.”

The architects have been working hard on their individual pieces as winter break approaches. Most of their houses are already on display and will also be available to be seen back from break. On a final note, PLEASE don’t eat or touch the houses unless it’s approved by the architect (I know they smell amazing!!)