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In its spring 2018 issue, ArchitectureDC magazine featured MMD’s “The Walkway” a public art project that brought the firm’s architects, graphic designers, creative directors, industrial designers and copywriters together in a comprehensive, enthusiastic collaboration. In 2016, MMD won a design competition, launched by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities in conjunction with the District Department of Transportation and Age Friendly DC, to create a piece of public art that would address harrassment on DC streets. “Our hope was that by raising awareness and encouraging open and honest discourse we could inspire respect and understanding in public places, where we should feel safe and connected to each other,” said Zarela Mosquera, one of the lead designers on the project.
MMD’s concept for the design was to create a simulated experience of walking on a city street, and to expose visitors to various types of sights and sounds one may encounter. In advance of the exhibit (and during the opening) real stories were collected from people who shared encounters with strangers in the public realm. Many of these stories were shared (anonymously) as part of the exhibit. Visitors were encouraged to share their own experiences through social media and a microsite. In this way, the exhibit fused the physical and digital realms into a singular experience. Said firm Design Director and Principal, Michael Marshall, “We wanted to make it easy to use it, pass through it, interact with it.”
“We were excited to work collaboratively as a team to make this project come alive,” said Chrys Sbily, Senior Director of Marketing, Communications and Branding. “Combining the various design disciplines made this the perfect outlet for our firm, where we use design and storytelling to create immersive experiences.”
The Walkway was installed at the intersection of 14th and U Streets NW in Washington, DC from January 2017 through March. Several thousand people visited the exhibit, many sharing their reactions on social media. Hundreds engaged in the exhibit by sharing their own stories of experiences meeting strangers in the public realm. Added Marshall, “As an architecture firm, we are always preoccupied with context and the built environment. Projects like this allow us to use design to drive engagement and tackle social issues.”