ENV Teams with Walt Disney Imagineering on Design Project

ENV Teams with Walt Disney Imagineering on Design Project
Architecture major Brandon Ro takes photos of Downtown Disney as part of the Bobby Brooks Memorial Design Charrette.
Students study the area between Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks.
The design charette charges students to create theoretical design concepts for the esplanade between the two parks.

While most of the students at Cal Poly Pomona were on spring break, more than three dozen students and faculty members were participating in a unique collaboration with Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), the division of The Walt Disney Company in charge of design and development of Disney parks and resorts worldwide. The Inaugural Bobby Brooks Memorial Charette for Entertainment Design was scheduled March 23 through April 2, with sessions at the university, at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim and at the WDI headquarters in Glendale.

This charette (an intense period of design activity) is a unique multidisciplinary event involving Cal Poly Pomona upper-division and graduate students studying architecture, art, landscape architecture and urban and regional planning. Divided into four groups of eight, the 32 students were charged with coming up with theoretical design concepts for the large esplanade between the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks in Anaheim.

The teams worked daily throughout the week, aided by five faculty advisers. Walt Disney Imagineers also worked closely with the students, providing the framework and basic parameters for their designs, and explaining the context of the project.

The creative concepts were due April 1, with official team presentations on April 2 at the WDI headquarters. Participants receive consideration for an internship at WDI, and the winning team members split a cash prize.

One of the best aspects of the event from a student standpoint was the ability to go all out — to express their ideas with a large degree of creativity. Plus, students receive four units of course credit for the project.

From the WDI standpoint, the creative exercise can develop stronger relationships with students and inspire creative talent at Cal Poly Pomona. It also encourages students to pursue careers in areas relevant to WDI's core line of business, such as entertainment design.

“This program will honor our late colleague, Bobby Brooks, in the same creative, collaborative spirit he brought to Walt Disney Imagineering,” Craig Russell, chief design & delivery executive, Walt Disney Imagineering, said prior to the start of the charette. “By interacting with these Cal Poly Pomona students, we gain insight into the next generation of potential Imagineers while providing them with real-world experience.”

The event is named in honor of Cal Poly Pomona alumnus Bobby Brooks, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2008. Brooks worked at WDI, beginning in 1990 as a facility design manager. He worked on projects such as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the Club Disney venues, and prototypes for several entertainment concepts, including ESPN Zone, Disney Store and Downtown Disney. Most recently, he was part of the Imagineering team working on a new urban entertainment concept.