This Appearance Is ____ invites citizens into the space of appearance and disappearance. In the 1950s, political theorist Hannah Arendt described the public realm as “space of appearance,” which she viewed as a collaborative process of worldmaking. Today, our collective space feels at times fragmented. The installation is a study in our ability to retreat from and then rejoin the larger world—a test made all the more poignant after more than a year of pandemic restrictions. A maze of curved walls made of lenticular plastic sheets creates a unique optical condition, visitors can disappear almost completely within the installation.

Sheppard and White collaborated with students at Lincoln Elementary School to develop new games for all ages. Click to download game instructions: Invisible Poses: Created by Franny, Mia, Eliza, Aksana; Kaleidoscope: Created by Jack, Michael, Sebastian; Capture the Light: Created by Ryder, Greyson, Brailei.


Lola Sheppard
Mason White
Kearon Roy Taylor
Zak Jacobi
Xavier Fox
Lucas White
In collaboration with CSA Lincoln Elementary

Fabrication Supporters

ESL Spectrum
Ignition Arts
Katahdin Engineering
University of Toronto, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape & Design

600 Block of Washington Street

What is now a space currently awaiting redevelopment was previously the A&P grocery store where Columbus residents would shop. More recently this green space has hosted many community activities and events.

Washington Street

Columbus was first planned in 1821 and the first recorded plat of the city reveals a standard grid layout. However, it is worthwhile to consider Washington Street between First and Seventh Streets as a site onto itself. In other words, these six blocks constitute a singular designed object. In Columbus, urban design and planning became a more aesthetic consideration during the early 1960s. In 1961, designer Alexander Girard was contacted to come up with a comprehensive beautification scheme for the storefronts along Washington Street. Girard, who had already designed interiors and textiles for Eero Saarinen’s Irwin Conference Center and Miller House, would end up proposing a 26-color palette and the removal of excessive signs. Other comprehensive plans were proposed for the area, including SOM’s Central Area Plan implemented in 1983. The latest redevelopment project since the 1983 Central Area Master Plan is called Vision 20/20.

Lola Sheppard is a Professor at the School of Architecture, University of Waterloo where she also serves as the Undergraduate Officer, and Mason White is a Professor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, & Design at the University of Toronto. They both received their Masters of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. Lola and Mason are the founding partners at Lateral Office, a highly collaborative design practice based in Toronto, Canada, embracing research-driven processes and experimental work in a team-based setting. Lateral Office is interested in truly unique design challenges that require new thinking and processes. They believe strongly in the synthetic possibilities of architecture, culture, technology, and environment to convert challenges to opportunities. They are joined on this project by team member Kearon Roy Taylor.

"Our work draws practice as a commitment to design as a research vehicle to pose and respond to complex, urgent questions in the built environment, engaging in the wider context and climate of a project—social, ecological, or political.”

— Lola Sheppard and Mason White

Watch this ten-minute video by Lola Sheppard and Mason White, who presents and describes the design concept for their installation, This Appearance Is _____. Sheppard and White are University Design Research Fellows, participant in the 2021 Exhibit Columbus Exhibition New Middles. This is a previously recorded and archived event, view more on our YouTube channel.

"Our collective space of appearance today is fragmented and sometimes disorienting. Equally, the visibility of many individuals in the public realm remains threatened. How do we negotiate our visibility and appearance today?"

— Lola Sheppard and Mason White
2021 Design Presentations