Rogue One

Designing an Empire: Doug Chiang on Imperial Architecture in Rogue One

“[…] To mark Rogue One‘s arrival on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD, asked the masterful Doug Chiang, co-production designer on Rogue One, to select some his favorite works of Imperial architecture concept art from the movie’s development (many of which would evolve as production continued) and tell us all about them. […]

ro_conceptart01 I love this. This is [an early version of] the shield gate at Scarif. It’s so massive in scale — in this painting, you have Star Destroyers docking on it. Is there ever any worry, when you attempt something like this, that you might be lessening the impact that, say, a Star Destroyer might have? You still have to figure out a way to make this impressive and keep their fleet impressive at the same time. Are those things that you’re thinking of in the design phase?

Doug Chiang: Yeah. We’re very conscious of not breaking the rules of Star Wars architecture. In particular, the shield gate and some of the early ideas for it, we wanted to start grand. Because we knew that if we don’t start with a grand vision, set the aspirational bar really high, we may never create something that’s very striking. The original idea was, let’s just go for it. What can we create that will inspire us? One of the ideas was that we were going to ring Scarif with this giant ring, that was going to be part a construction ring for Star Destroyers, but it was also going to be a refueling, resurfacing facility for the Empire. The reason we thought a ring might be interesting is, in my mind, the Death Star is the ultimate in Imperial manufacturing. That’s the big statement. Since this was going to take place before that, we were thinking, what could be something structurally impressive but wouldn’t supersede the Death Star? We thought, okay, maybe an orbital ring of some kind. That’s where we came up with this. It seemed like it was in line with the technology the Empire had, but yet as a visual statement, it wasn’t going to supersede the Death Star.”

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