Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Printing the Needle

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March 27, 2016 · by Storyline Studio · Blog, Design Process

A exciting feature of our newly completed Space Needle exhibition, are three detailed models of the Seattle Space Needle showing the main stages of the Needle’s construction. In the spirit of the 1962 World’s Fair – for which the Space Needle was created – we decided to harness a burgeoning technology to create the models – in this case, 3-D printing. Working with 3D artist, Henk Dawson of Dawson 3D Inc., detailed computer models were built of each major phase of construction – from foundation to the finished Needle.


The computer models were processed and sent to a Seattle firm, Fathom, who specialize in 3D printing, manufacturing and prototyping.  Over several weeks the detailed models were meticulously printed.



Due to their large size, the models had to be printed in sections and then assembled.


Lastly, exhibit fabricators, Group Delphi carefully installed the three models into custom-designed cylindrical cases.




Inspiration for Design

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December 31, 2015 · by Storyline Studio · Blog

Inspiration for design can come from anywhere. Our recently opened exhibition for the Washington State History Museum is a great example.  “Road Trip of  the Catastrophes” utilizes a illustrated storytelling technique to take visitors on a trip through the State of Washington.  Stops along the way reveal elemental forces responsible for shaping the Washington landscape: volcanoes, glaciers, floods, and climate change.


Inspiration for the exhibit came from a family road trip Bill took in the summer of 2004.  He wanted to follow a route he had taken as a young boy that would show his children the diversity of geology in the State of Washington.  Little did he know, that one day it would influence a new exhibition.



Needle on the News

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November 20, 2015 · by Storyline Studio · Blog


An exhibition experience we have designed on the entrance ramp to the Space Needle is about to open. It tells the dramatic story of the Needle’s creation in the early 60s as part of the Seattle Worlds Fair.

The Needle was created as a vision of the future and it’s certainly not stuck in the past – as witnessed by this recently aired CBC This Morning piece on cutting edge technology at the top of the tower.

A Work in Progress

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July 20, 2015 · by Storyline Studio · Blog


Fabrication is nearly complete on The Great Hall of Washington exhibit upgrade for the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma Washington.

We were recently at Group Delphi’s shop in Alameda, California inspecting recent progress.  Installation is slated for later this summer.



Where History Connects Us All

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April 16, 2015 · by Storyline Studio · Blog


A new history gallery for Washington

It’s been less than a year since the Storyline team first sat down with their colleagues at the Washington State History Museum.

Now… we are just weeks away from opening a new permanent exhibition. The new exhibition will invite visitors to explore the way the land was shaped and discover the first traces of humans in this place.


Forming a Mental Image

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March 7, 2015 · by Storyline Studio · Blog

Visualization techniques continue to evolve.  Recognizing that our very best ideas aren’t worth much unless we are able to communicate them effectively to our audience, Storyline Studio recently collaborated on an exciting computer fly-through visualization of our work for the Annenberg Foundation, called the Urban Ecology Center, set within the exciting fabric of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.

Working with the computer graphics department of McDonough + Partners, Storyline Studio worked as design director,  providing storyboards,  modeling and textural support and editing for a 5 minute computer fly-through.  Take a look at the results here.

The Annenberg Urban Ecology Center was designed via a collaborative effort of Storyline Studio, Swatt Miers Architects and Melendrez.





Storyline on the Needle

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February 18, 2015 · by Storyline Studio · Blog


2015 started with an elevating experience.

Storyline has been engaged by the Space Needle to re-imagine the entrance experience at one of America’s most iconic buildings.

The creation of the Space Needle [it opened as part of the 1962 World’s Fair] is a story of delightful imagination and daring enterprise. Now, the Space Needle organization wants tell the dramatic story of the Needle’s design and construction [it took just 400 days to build!] and evoke the zeitgeist of the time when space travel was new.

The Needle/Storyline team will tap into an extraordinary archival treasure to bring the story alive. The story of the Needle’s birth and build was captured in photographs and architectural illustrations. Many of these assets have not been shown in public.

Broadcasting to the Nation

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December 16, 2014 · by Storyline Studio · Blog


Tim Willis, while a vital member of Storyline, is also an aspiring radio personality!  In fact he has been doing a regular museum ‘spot’ on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [CBC] program North  by Northwest.

These features look at all kinds of themes that challenge museums in the 21st century. Topics include museums in the digital age, creating powerful visitor experiences, dealing with difficult subjects and several more.

To hear Tim’s feature on the weirdest museums in the world, click here

Washington State History Museum

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August 5, 2014 · by Storyline Studio · Blog


We are beginning work on the The Great Hall of Washington exhibit upgrade for the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma Washington.  It is a great opportunity for the Museum to renew their visitor experience and transform its relationship with the public.  We’re looking forward to the collaboration in the upcoming year.

Wayfinding Signage

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July 11, 2014 · by Storyline Studio · Blog

Wayfinding signage, we designed for North Seattle Community College’s Human Health & Student Resources Building in Seattle, Washington, has recently been installed.  The building, designed by our friends at Schacht Aslani Architects is a 46,000 square-foot project, which includes a cafe, tutoring center, science labs, nursing skills lab and classrooms.



A Quicker Route to Riches

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June 25, 2014 · by Storyline Studio · Blog, Design Process, Projects, Uncategorized

After an 18 month collaboration with the Anchorage Museum and the Washington State History Museum, we have completed design for the new temporary exhibition titled, Arctic Ambitions: Captain James Cook and the Northwest Passage.  The exhibit focuses on Cook’s third voyage – searching for a highly desirable maritime trade route through the Arctic.  The exhibit looks to reveal Cook’s endeavors in a new light, so visitors can better understand today’s and tomorrow’s New North.

Exhibit fabrication starts soon with an anticipated opening date of March 2015 at the Anchorage Museum.


The exhibit will feature artifacts from around the world, many of which will be on display for the first time in North America.


Early conceptual sketches explore design methodologies as well as the gallery look and feel.


Given the significant physical differences between the two venues, we built white models to explore planning and installation schemes.


Design development drawings show exhibit scale, visitor interaction, material details and color.  At Storyline Studio we ink these drawings by hand, scan them and then digitally paint them in the computer.


To test ideas and work out important details, we will occasionally build our ideas in a 3D program.  Illustrations like this one can be created through careful lighting and material shading.  Graphic panel details and people are later added using a image manipulation program.


A large scale digital print helps us refine our graphic concepts.  This one for an interactive timeline which which runs down the middle of each galleries, providing a detailed, illustrated, chronological narrative of Cook’s voyage within a global historical context.

Designing for Discovery

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June 6, 2014 · by Storyline Studio · Blog, Design Process, Projects, Uncategorized

Take a look at the newly launched joint website which reveals the vision for the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. A collaborative effort of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, State Coastal Conservancy and the Annenberg Foundation.


Storyline Studio was tasked to conceptualize the visitor experience. With an appreciation of the ecological, cultural, and economic heritage of the site, our design ideas look to foster active, hands-on exploration and discovery of the myriad ecological connections that extend from the Ballona Wetlands.


When realized, the urban exploration will lead visitors far beyond the Ballona Wetlands, and ultimately back to their own homes and communities, newly deputized to sow positive change in their own “backyards.”


The study of ecology has traditionally focused on “pristine” wilderness environments, with urban development seen as inherently destructive to nature. The emerging field of urban ecology has challenged this paradigm, noting that urban environments exhibit many of the same complex system dynamics as “natural” ones, and that a clearer understanding of these dynamics can lead to greater sustainability.





Evolution of a Sketch

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May 23, 2014 · by Storyline Studio · Blog, Design Process, Uncategorized

The other day we were drawn into a conversation about the state of hand drawing in todays design process.  With the development of powerful, user friendly computer modeling programs, the “hand” is thought to be disappearing from the design studio.

Well, not at Storyline Studio.  While our creative process continues to evolve along with technology, the ability to “draw our way to ideas” remains a backbone of our studio. Below is a selection of three sketches, each building and resolving the next.  It’s an example of how we value the refinement of an idea and how hand drawing can guide us to an idea.

SketchA SkectchC SketchB

Gateway Park Takes Shape

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May 16, 2014 · by Storyline Studio · Blog, Projects, Uncategorized


This month, we’re in final design of our creative vision for an educational and engaging park. Located at the east entrance to the city of Bothell, Washington, on Beardslee Blvd. and Interstate 405, the new Gateway Park will be an important piece of The Village at Beardslee Crossing, a innovative apartment and retail community.  Our concept is informed by the nearby North Creek, and it brings to life the story of the creek as it flows into the wetlands. As the living heart of the local ecosystem, human residents will share their homes with  herons, salmon, ducks, dragonflies, and a host of other critters.

DuckShelter DuckShelterPers

A river “water line” is suggested through creative, visual clues.  Our rain shelter includes water glass, steel grass reeds and sculpted ducks.  One is even seen popping his head under the water!


Once in the “river,”  salmon are seen swimming up stream.  A sculpted raccoon pokes its paw into the water, while an eagle perches in a dead head with a salmon in its claws.


The new Gateway Park will create a unique gathering place for residents of Bothell.  Anticipated opening is Fall of 2014.

WMA Conference Presenter

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April 21, 2014 · by Storyline Studio · Blog, Press Clips, Uncategorized

WMA_LV_blue1We’ve been selected to speak at the Western Museums Association Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.  Bill Smith and Tim Willis will join Redmond Barnett and Stephanie Lile of the Washington State History Museum to present a session titled, Legacy, Innovation and Renovation: New Life for Aging Permanent Exhibitions.  We are excited to share from our years of experience on how museums can tackle everything from a simple refresh to ground-up renovations.

Seattle’s Greenest Fire Station

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August 6, 2013 · by Storyline Studio · Blog, Projects
Image by Schacht Aslani Architects —

Image by Schacht Aslani Architects —

The shovels are about to break ground for the new Fire Station 20 in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, and it’s slated to be the greenest fire station in the region.  Fronting busy Western Avenue (the main arterial between downtown Seattle and Ballard) the city saw fit to include interpretive elements that would help raise awareness of environmental issues.  Storyline Studio worked closely with Schacht Aslani Architects, the City of Seattle Fire Department, and BBI Engineering to design a large, low-energy reader board for the street-facing facade. The sign will broadcast real-time information about the building’s energy and water conservation, along with timely messages about eco-events taking place around the city.  Additional interpretive signage around the building site will allow neighbors, passersby, and folks waiting at the bus stop to learn more.

Below are some early conceptual renderings of the reader board component. Final graphics and information output are currently being developed as we move into the construction phase.



A College Rises

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· by Storyline Studio · Blog, Projects

Image by Schacht Aslani Architects —

Image by Schacht Aslani Architects —

Our friends at Schacht Aslani Architects have posted time-lapse videos of the construction of the new Allied Health and Technology Building at North Seattle Community College. Storyline Studio joined the design team to create a signage and wayfinding system for the 46,000 square-foot project, which will house a cafe, tutoring center, science labs, nursing skills lab and classrooms. See the construction videos here.

A New Gateway to Bothell

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July 24, 2013 · by Storyline Studio · Blog, Projects


The Village at Beardslee Crossing is the kind of project that breathes a whole new energy into a city. With a view out over one of the most successful wetlands restoration projects in the country, it will serve as the new Northeastern gateway to the city of Bothell, Washington, and will undoubtedly become home for many of the students attending the University of Washington Bothell campus next door, where enrollment has been booming. The developer of the project has chosen Storyline Studio to design an inspirational and educational gateway plaza at the edge of the property that will welcome visitors and residents to the city of Bothell.  Taking a cue from the nearby slough, the early concepts for the experience bring to life the story of the wetlands as the living heart of the local ecosystem, with herons, salmon, ducks, dragonflies, and a host of other critters, whose home these new residents will be sharing.

City Gone Wild

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July 23, 2013 · by Storyline Studio · Blog, Projects


Earlier this year, The Annenberg Foundation joined the efforts of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Coastal Conservancy, and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission to plan for the revitalization of the 600-acre Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in heavily urban Los Angeles. As part of an interdisciplinary design team, Storyline Studio has been tasked with conceptualizing exhibition designs for a new urban ecology center that will serve as an educational gateway for the wetlands enhancement project.  The conceptual site plan shown here is for a 30-acre portion of the “uplands” area of the larger site, which is the proposed location of the education center, adjacent to the existing Little League ballfields.

Seattle Times Feature Article

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January 29, 2013 · by Storyline Studio · Blog, Press Clips, Projects
Seattle Times article on the new Suquamish Museum

Photograph by Mike Siegel for The Seattle Times

The new Suquamish Museum made the front page of the Seattle Times’ Travel section this past Sunday, with a widely positive review of our exhibition design as well as the architecture by Mithun. Favorite quote pick: “A gleaming example of modern museum concepts.”

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