Springboard Design

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MAKE YOUR MARK is an adaptive reuse of an existing 19th century structure that required significant structural repair and aesthetic improvements. The design approach was driven by the concept of mark-making: our materially distinct interventions mark the existing building fabric, establishing both continuity within the existing street facade and a singularity accentuating the unique activities that occur inside.

A former beauty parlor and interiors showroom, the building had a massive chimney running through the center that interfered with circulation, views, and natural light. Our first recommendation was to remove this intrusive element, which allowed for the creation of the centralized counter.

The two-story design also incorporates a multitude of materials and assemblies, including masonry restoration, a cantilevered steel entry porch, multiple industrial metal siding profiles contrasting existing and new construction, galvanized metal awnings and interior finishes, micro-laminated plywood casework with spray lacquer finish, and folded birch plywood bulkheads. A ribbon-like aluminum sign – laser cut with the coffee shop’s name – leads customers from the street down to the shop’s side entrance. A bright, blue metal building addition is the focal point of a redesigned, brick-walled garden oasis in the rear.

The before and after transformation is dramatic, and the coffee and homemade pastries are great


This project focused on an exterior facade renovation for the owner of an urban building located within a dense neighborhood in the midst of redefinition and renewal. Interested in protecting his investment not only through the maintenance of the building shell but also by improving its image, the owner sought to attract new tenants to the building with a more professional, friendly image to the street.

The conceptual design involves the composition of four different materials – brick, stucco, cement/fiber boards, and wood panels to create a more engaging facade that identifies a clear entry. A metal pergola on the side – integrated with vertical plantings – helps wrap the front facade improvements around the corner, extending the welcoming experience to the renovated parking area on the side of the building. Additional windows provide more daylight and, combined with the warm neutral color palette, lighten the feel of the facade.


Dancing is about movement, physicality, performance. There is a voyeuristic ambiguity to dancing in a darkened club, a tension between viewing and being viewed, between extroversion and the illusion of anonymity. Dancers may be actors or audience all at once, bystanders and revelers, too.

On the fourth floor of the old Strand Theater and Natatorium Building, in the location of a long-abandoned bowling alley, an all-ages dance club, Laga, was created. Conceptually, the Laga club design is based upon the creation of multiple fragmentary arenas, settings which oscillate from the condition of ‘stage’ to that of ‘audience.’

Designed to stand up to raves and moshing, the 8,000 sf interior features a 275 gallon tropical fish tank, custom wall sconces, and an industrial material palette of plywood, OSB, MDF, aluminum, galvanized and raw steel. Artificial light is used to highlight the existing riveted columns. A steel tension cable ‘cage’ encloses the ‘over-21’ drinking area without interfering with visual and acoustical connections to the dance floor. The dance floor wraps around the raised stage, which is used for dancing and live musical performances. Railings on stage are removable for live performances.

The ‘Laga Lounge’ is defined by steel tension cable screens and offers tarp-covered sofas to the dance weary. Above the eight-foot datum defined by the plywood module, walls are red, ceilings black. Light shelves and perforated metal sconces add a varety of lighting effects to the theatrical lighting on the dance floor.

photography by Ed Massary


Every year, Duquesne Light Company helps sponsor the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. After several years of using the same concept and display, Duquesne Light wanted a change. Springboard was asked to develop a new interactive display that was modular, reusable, economical to build, and easy to install and dismantle. Springboard’s scope started with the creation of a new concept and included the design and fabrication drawings as well.

In a sense, Springboard viewed the project as a branding exercise for Duquesne Light. What is the public perception of the utility company? How can the Home & Garden Show display help to evolve the brand?

The concept Springboard developed is called ‘Light Lab.’ Light Lab is an interactive play environment that includes an assortment of entertaining and educational light experiments and games. It is designed to position Duquesne Light as research based, future oriented, technologically savvy, youthful – and fun.

The design is composed of four parts. A ‘storefront’ of slotted steel and clear acrylic creates a beckoning wall of light and color, with a display of new types of light bulbs and lab glass. A second, curving, wall of corrugated fiberglass glows, while a third screen displays illuminated building facades renovated as part of an urban improvement program that Duquesne Light sponsors. Finally, a set of ‘lab tables’ anchor the space, each offering visitors a different activity or experience.