an image of a ferris wheel in a city with it reflected in water

Story Building: Secrets of Narrative Placemaking and Design from Entertainment Architecture

Ignite your productivity, leadership skills, and creativity by adopting a storytelling approach to placemaking design that will elevate your projects and make them appealing to users and investors.

Every building tells a story. These stories are grounded in our emotional connection to architecture. Our built environment protects us, surrounds us, defines us, and gives us a place to live our lives. The better you understand a building’s story, the better you can enlist others into your vision.

In this program on narrative architecture, Steve Tatham, one of the world’s leading theme park designers, will discuss how theme parks use story techniques to create unforgettable built environments and how you can use these practices to bring your built projects to life.

What to Expect

a lively discussion among AMDP participants
a presentation being given by Steve Tatham

When Florida’s Walt Disney World opened in 1971, NBC’s David Brinkley called it “the most imaginative and effective piece of urban planning in America.” This in-depth program, taught by a 30+ year veteran of theme park design with Disney and Universal Creative, demonstrates how to import the practices from designing theme parks into the discipline of placemaking.

You will hone your architectural narrative sensibilities through concrete examples from theme park design, architecture, and real estate development, further strengthened through classroom discussion and practice pitch sessions.

  • Learn five fundamental principles of entertainment architecture.
  • Practice reframing your project into an emotionally engaging story by adapting the practices of theme park design.
  • Reframe your thinking from being investor-focused to user-focused because the user is the one who is funding your project.
  • Understand marketing data’s role in analyzing what is essential to your potential user.
  • Acquire the skills to tell distinct, memorable stories.
  • Grow as a leader by becoming a better storyteller.
  • This program is for anyone interested in placemaking as a storytelling discipline. 
  • This includes all real estate professionals and designers engaged in making places.
  • This program does not require previous design experience or ability.

We recommend anyone signing up for this program watch Ole Sceeren’s Ted Talk “Why great architecture should tell a story”:

You might suppose that entertainment architecture is the architecture of theaters and amusement parks, and structures exclusively designed by theme park architects. However, the term entertainment architecture can refer to any building or structure, regardless of its location and function, provided that it is designed to stimulate the imagination and encourage fantasy and whimsy. 

Some works of entertainment architecture are playful recreations of famous monuments. Some feature enormous statues and fountains. Entertainment architecture is often considered postmodern because it uses familiar shapes and details in unexpected ways.

Source: ThoughtCo.


Headshot of Steve Tatham

Steve Tatham

Executive Creative Director, Universal Creative

“Before there can be a real estate development, it must have a story that the general public is ready to buy.  Steve Tatham’s window into story building will open a new set of eyes for you, in a visual and imaginative way told with enthusiasm, examples, takeaway mottos, and panache.  In ways you’ll indelibly remember.  Highly recommended!”

David Smith, CEO, Affordable Housing Institute

Story Building: Secrets of Narrative Placemaking and Design from Entertainment Architecture

December 4, 6, & 9, 2024 | 11:00am – 01:00pm EST

Tuition: $1,200 (through October 15 ), $1,400
CEUs: Pending
AMDP Elective Units: 1

Program size is limited and early registration is recommended.

Discounts & Deadlines

Please email us at [email protected] with any questions and to ask about group signup.

Registration Deadline: 3 hours before the start of the program.

Full Discount and Cancellation Policies