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How does the magic happen at Rockwell Group? “Pixie dust,” quips Marc Hacker, the firm’s in-house “Thinker.” All jokes aside, there is some truth here. From the animated Quan Yin statue in TAO Downtown to the shifting set of Kinky Boots, to the child-directed free play of the Imagination Playground, a distinct sense of magic imbues every one of these projects. All of them are driven not so much by a look, or even a sensibility, but by the endlessly curious creative process that shaped them. “I know this sounds trite, but it’s not about what’s true now,” says founder and president David Rockwell. “It’s about asking, ‘what if?’” What if an architect could be as experimental as a chef? What if the stage set became a character? What if your environment could transform with every step?
In the Rockwell Group world, asking “What if?”—also the title of a new book being released by Metropolis Books in December to commemorate the firm’s 30th anniversary—has led to an embrace of design at all scales. […]