The Architectural Philosophy Of Disney

I just got back from a trip to Disney World in Florida. As an architect, I enjoy exploring and scrutinizing the architecture throughout the parks; both the theme parks as well as the hotels, restaurants, etc.

It goes without saying that the attention to detail is unmatched, but one thing that many people may not realize is the distinction the Disney designers and craftsmen make between the “touchable” achitecture and the “viewed” architecture. What this means is that all of the design and detailing that the guests can touch or that is close enough to receive real scrutiny is finished with the highest quality materials to the finest of detailing. The areas of the design that are high above where people walk or that are in less accessible areas receive the “gloss” of the materials and detailing that one experiences at the touchable level, without the minute detailing. The scale of many of the structures is also altered slightly as it recedes from street level, creating an appearance of more depth, larger scale, or impressive stature. To the Disney guest, this distinction is lost and the overall effect is continuous intricacies and the finest materials.

This philosophy can be applied to every day design and architecture as well. When our client is on a budget, we emphasize the importance of prioritizing the spaces of the project into public and private; high use and less use. The higher level of detailing and more costly materials can be incorporated into the highly visible areas with the potential of saving money on less costly detailing and materials in the less trafficked areas. In so doing, the entire project reads as the higher quality areas as this is the first impression of the guests and end users of the space.

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