model making 07/2014


Heather’s previous blog post Working with Sketchup, discussed how architects are able to make realistic 3-D computer models, allowing clients are to be part of the process by making changes in real time. Why then are traditional wood models, that take hours and hours to build, still an integral part of our design process here at Flavin Architects? Here are a few advantages of physical models:


Conceptual Design:  Models made of easy to cut foam core are a great way to design intuitively.  Ideas come to mind, and can be cut and changed without elaborate coding, like a sculptor working in clay, where ideas form as you’re working. Computers are great for developing a design, but are rarely helpful to develop initial ideas. A breakthrough can often occur while simply putting two pieces of material together.


Design Understanding: One of our biggest challenges is not surprising our clients or contractors as the design is being built. Better than any drawing by hand or computer, a physical model allows our clients to completely understand a design before having to commit. While making the model, we encounter some of the same challenges our contractors run into. This leads to design refinements that improve the overall design and constructability.


Close In Design:We constructed a physical model of the roof framing illustrated below to confirm that the conceptual design is feasible. We designed the concept of a folded roof, almost like Japanese Origami. Working with our structural engineer, Siegel Associates, the concept became a fully resolved structural design with steel beams and rough sawn timbers. Stay tuned for images of the completed project by following us on facebook.



Written by Colin Flavin AIA

Flavin Architects