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Adirondack Studios brings The Rock to life for MasterCard

Project saw famous Zanzibar restaurant recreated in New York City

The Rock MasterCard Priceless

Adirondack Studios, a company that provides creative solutions for designers, artists, producers, and owners across the themed entertainment industry, worked on a brand activation for MasterCard Food and Beverage. The project involved taking three iconic restaurants from around the world and recreating them at Spring Studios in Tribeca, New York City.

The process saw the studio demonstrating its ability to be nimble, with designers active on the fabrication floor, creatives coming out from behind the sketch pad, and computer, design and fabrication working in parallel.

Adirondack Studios sketch The Rock

The brief

MasterCard owner’s representatives, Jeffrey Carr and Jenny Friedberg, called on Adirondack Studios for this unique brand activation at Spring Studios, a creative producing agency that is home to events such as the TriBeCa film festival, Fashion week and more. The venue also serves as a work, event and social networking space for photographers, filmmakers and producers across many different sectors.

The Rock- rendering Adirondack Studios

Spring Studios partnered with MasterCard Food and Beverage to launch Priceless, a high-end activation showcasing MasterCard’s dedication to quality across the culinary experiential market. 

The Rock Zanzibar

For this, Adirondack Studios has the task of recreating the experience of being in one of the most unique restaurants in the world, the famous Zanzibar restaurant The Rock, in under 3 months. The Rock sits on a rock formation in the Indian Ocean, of the coast of Michanwi Pingwe. At low tide, visitors can get wet feet as they cross to wood steps, or at high tide will cross via a metal launch.

Design process

At the start of the project, while looking at the best approach, the team saw that the biggest challenge would be the schedule. Firstly, members of the NYC team travelled to Adirondack Studios in upstate New York.

Here they met with Seth Harkins, VP of creative design, Andy Nice, lead designer and Adrian Magowan, head of production, among other critical staff, in order to develop a plan to achieve the design intent while operating within the budget and delivering on time. Following an all-day workshop, the teams from MasterCard, Spring Studios and Adirondack Studios had a plan.

Adirondack designing The Rock


Adirondack Studios houses metal, carpentry, CNC routing, fibreglass, multiple paint shops and soft goods. The creative and technical design departments, as well as project management and purchasing, sit steps away from the fabrication floor and all came together to produce The Rock.

As the metal shop finished the framing for the alls, the carpentry and CNC departments cut, skinned and assembled. Meanwhile, designers and carpenters worked at drafting tables as walls rose around them. Tables and machinery were moved aside to make space on the shop floor for the 40’x 50’ restaurant.

Painting with the Rock Adirondack Studios

At the same time, fibreglass artists hand-carved the rock work, scenic painters laid on the floor while working on the set and soft goods artisans were creating the thatched roofing.

“It felt like working on the road, the fast-paced environment like getting ready for opening night. All the shops came together and were working in step,” says Margaret Bollendorf, scenic artist.

Where high tech machinery might have ordinarily been hard at work, the team got hands-on with sketching and hand carving, allowing them to make decisions on the move.

“Drawings would get sketched by Andy [the designer] at 8 am, then brought directly out to the shop floor for production to adjust on the fly. Carpenters, sculptors and painters working simultaneously allowed this all to come together quickly,” says Jeff Ritchie, carpentry

The result

Priceless opened in Summer 2019, with a review by Vogue calling the “seemingly impossible task of recreating [the culinary destination of The Rock] an impressive feat.”

Guests found themselves in a beautifully detailed restaurant, with authentic chairs and tables. The walls were textured, painted and aged to look as if they were blasted by the wind and the sea for years, while a fabricated sea breeze wafted by the diners. Looking out of the windows, instead of the city streets, they saw actual footage filmed from the windows of the original restaurant, through integrated LED screens.

MasterCard PRICELESS_The_Rock

“To be “nimble” is to be quick and light in action and movement,” says a statement from Adirondack Studios, reflecting on the project. “To be creatively nimble is to understand that there is never one way to approach a project. Often when we release our tight hold on process, surprising things can happen.”

Earlier this year, the studio announced the completion of a project with Brookfield Properties at Manhattan West Plaza in New York City, called Citrovia.

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charlotte coates

Charlotte Coates

Charlotte Coates is blooloop's editor. She is from Brighton, UK and previously worked as a librarian. She has a strong interest in arts, culture and information and graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in English Literature. Charlotte can usually be found either with her head in a book or planning her next travel adventure.

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