Ghirardelli Square and the Academy of Art University’s Christmas Tree Grove

Hello students! Ghirardelli Square is happy to partner with the Academy of Art University to bring a festive
holiday tree stroll to the square for a second year. Fifteen trees will be selected to be displayed
at various locations throughout Ghirardelli Square for the holiday season. Each will feature a
descriptive sign with team member names and what inspired the particular design.



This year, teams are not restricted to using a traditional Christmas tree as a base. We ask that
you use your creativity and design a festive, tree-inspired structure that has a 3’ maximum
radius and is approximately 5’-6’ tall. If you choose to decorate a traditional tree, please make
sure it also fits within those size requirements.

  • Designs must reflect a holiday and/or department theme
  • If you are not choosing to decorate a traditional Christmas tree, then your
    structure should be holiday themed/inspired.
  • Designs must be reviewed by the instructor before submission to confirm materials are
    available upon build out and comply with requirements/restrictions.
  •  Students must not alter their design after submission and should be an exact replication
    of their submitted sketch
  • Execution should be professionally done (i.e. no dripping glue, unfinished or sloppy
    work, hardware to secure decor coming apart or falling off, etc.)
  • Sloppy or unfinished designs will be removed from display if not complete by November



Ghirardelli Square sees a significant amount of wind, fog and people during the holiday season.

  • Structures must be able to stand freely and any decorative elements must be secured to
    prevent them from flying off or being pulled off. We do not recommend including any
    paper elements as these have not typically fared well in fog and rain. Any dyed or
    painted material should not bleed when wet. Your structure must be able to withstand the
    elements (heavy wind, rain, mist, etc., i.e. materials should be waterproofed). Any
    structures showing significant damage will be removed from display.
  • Structures must incorporate a battery or solar operated light element, no electrical power
    will be provided. Please test lights during installation, but lights must be turned off until
    November 26th.
  • Materials must be sourced before submitting design to ensure on time delivery to fully
    execute design as described.
  • Structure must include a secure base (preferably sandbags)
  • Students should be mindful of the weight of materials being used to execute design. If additional support is needed, please make sure it is hidden and does not distract fromthe overall display.
  • Structures will be displayed throughout the square for one month. These locations have been pre-determined by Ghirardelli Square and cannot be relocated once installed.
  • Selected locations are in place for safety purposes and accessibility.
  •  Trees must be delivered to Ghirardelli Square for installation on Monday, November 22nd and Tuesday, November 23rd.



Finalists will be determined by the following submission criteria. Please be thorough in
your sketches/renderings and descriptions. Incomplete submissions will not be

Colored sketch or 3D rendering of your design
List of materials you will be using
Brief description of your design
Department name and director
Participant names
Inspiration behind the design (50 words max for tree placard which will be placed
next to your tree)
Charitable organization you would like us to donate to if you win (this will not impact
judging, but we would like to have this information ready when we announce the

  • Final designs submitted by Wednesday, November 3rd by 3PM to Michael Petricca at
  • The Ghirardelli Square team will select 15 finalists and informed by Friday, November
  • Structures must be delivered to Ghirardelli Square November 22nd and 23rd. Please
    coordinate delivery with Greg Grundstrom.
  • Teardown/removal must be completed on December 27th and 28th. Please coordinate
    with Greg Grundstrom.


On Friday, November 26th, our judges will walk and score structures on specific criteria (see
attached sample judging form) and announce one winner. The winning team will receive a
framed certificate, a $1000 donation to the charitable organization of their choice and a gift
basket of items from Ghirardelli Square merchants (estimated value of $1000). The structure will also have a special placard displayed for the rest of the month. This year, we are also including an interactive element in which visitors are welcome to vote for
a People’s Choice award winner. Voting will take place from November 26th through December
10th and a winner will be announced via social media for bragging rights and a select prize from
one of our retailers.


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