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UC Alumna and Student Happy to be Part of Design for Angry Birds Theme Park

The best part about serving as lead designer for the new Angry Birds theme park? For alumna Stefanie Hawk, it means she can play the Angry Birds game on her smart phone and call it “research.”

Date: 1/31/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: BDR Design Group

UC ingot   University of Cincinnati alumna Stefanie Hawk and student Sara Maloney have been happy to see children flocking to the new Angry Birds Land in Europe.

The theme park opened in late spring of 2012 after Hawk, a 2003 alumna of UC’s nationally top-ranked interior design program, served as its lead conceptual designer, and student Sara Maloney spent a cooperative education quarter helping with the project, even so far as designing the attraction’s two main entrances.
Angry Birds Land entrance
UC co-op student Sara Maloney designed this main entrance to Angry Birds Land.

Hawk, 32, a resident of Cincinnati’s Cheviot neighborhood and senior designer/project director for BDR Design Group, states, “The project has made me very popular with my friends’ kids; however, perhaps even better than that, I can now play unlimited Angry Birds without my friends teasing me. I now tell them: ‘It’s research.’”

Maloney, 26, of Batavia, Ohio, a senior in UC’s nationally number-one ranked industrial design program (the transportation track), recalls that playing Angry Birds on an iPad was literally part of her on-the-job research as she helped with the project: “I’d not really played the game before that co-op quarter, so I really did have to play the game in order to begin to understand what the client would be looking for and how to make their brand stand out.”

This first Angry Birds Land is part of the Särkänniemi Adventure Park in Tampere, Finland. There are 12 rides in the Angry Birds Land, including a roller coaster, a lighthouse and an adventure course as well as themed food areas. And the Angry Birds addition has contributed to a 10 percent increase in the adventure park’s attendance after the May 2012 Angry Birds Land opening.  

That opening was the result of fast-paced work by Hawk, Maloney and others on the team. In fact, they didn’t begin the design process for the Angry Birds Land until fall 2011.
Aerial view of Angry Birds Land
Aerial view of Angry Birds Land.

Recalled Hawk, “I first went to Finland in 2011 to do a long-range plan on behalf of BDR Design Group for the adventure park, which was to include a new children’s area. I had just gotten my first smart phone, and I was playing Angry Birds on it while touring the park. That’s when one of our hosts mentioned that Angry Birds is a product of Rovio  Entertainment, based in Finland.”

From there, both Hawk and the client came to the same conclusion at about the same time: to design the new children’s area with an Angry Birds theme.

Hawk’s role was to lead the overall design but to coordinate all the other vendors, such as the ride manufacturer; and the local architecture firm that managed construction and completed the construction documents.

Because of the fast pace and heavy work load shared among the seven full-time staff at BDR Design Group, Hawk not only served as lead conceptual designer but also worked on graphics and prop design, as well as overall planning for the project.

But that kind of leadership and versatility is why, as a student in UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, she opted to spend some of her cooperative education terms with a small firm: “My advice to students is simple when it comes to choosing co-op employers. If you want experience and responsibility, a small firm is the way to go. Our current co-op students are designing portions of projects, where their contributions get built and go immediately into their portfolios. That was my own experience here, and when I was hired full time after graduation, I had a leadership role within two years.”
UC alumna Stefanie Hawk at Angry Birds Land
UC alumna Stefanie Hawk, to the right of the red Angry Bird in the above photo, was the lead conceptual designer for Angry Birds Land.

Maloney agrees that within the small team at BDR Design, she was able to “jump right in and be a team member with a lot of responsibility.” In fact, she designed the main gates for Angry Birds Land during her first two weeks on the job, creating a scale model and plotting precisely how many blocks would be required for the entrance’s right tower in order to maintain appropriate scale with other elements of the attraction. Maloney recalls she also had to pay attention to function, safety features and the overall environment in designing the gates.

In the end, her design features a left-most pillar consisting of an upright sling shot frame with an Angry Bird in the crook of the sling shot’s Y-shaped frame. The right side of the entrance consists of a pig in a tower.

Maloney also performed concept work for a space area as well (based on the Angry Birds Space game, comprised of several different planets, each of which has its own gravitational field that affects the trajectory of the birds after launch). She also helped execute graphics, including directional signs, and even to select colors for Angry Birds Land buildings. So, while Hawk developed the concept for signage wherein an Angry Bird’s head is always incorporated into a sign, with the beak serving as the arrow, Maloney then helped execute that concept.

As an encore to the Angry Birds project, Hawk and other members of the firm are currently designing renovations of the children’s zoo at Särkänniemi Adventure Park, a project for which co-op student Maloney developed almost all the props and many of the graphics as well.

Hawk quips, “You might say we started with a project that was for the birds, and liked it so much, we’re now giving equal time to the other animals too.”
A ride at Angry Birds Land
A ride at Angry Birds Land.

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