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thoughts.mcalpine.tankersley.architecture

The architectural profession (like all other professions) has been bombarded by slews of whiz-bang technological gizmos. Programs such as Sketch-Up allow the CAD operating architect to fly through, over and under their designs in scenes worthy of a contemporary digitally animated film. These always leave me a bit cold. As amazingly realistic as they are, they always seem to lack the warmth of a human touch. Contrast the rich hand drawn environment of Disney’s Snow White vs. Dreamworks’ pixelated Shrek. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s no comparison in terms of artistic heart.


When we’re presenting a new home design, we often use models to fully explain the vision to our clients. Since our designs are often complex and experiential in nature, drawings can only go so far in conveying what the clients’ dream will actually look and feel like. A picture may say a thousand words, but a model speaks volumes.

Our technique is pretty old school. We create these highly detailed models with cardboard, paper, glue, graphite, balsa wood, plastic, dried shrubbery and the occasional odd bits lying about. Our office McGuyver is a fellow named Charlie Caldwell (he’s the one in the last picture in this post). Charlie is a terrific hands-on designer with a significant and long background in theatrical scenic arts including an MFA from the University of Virginia. He’s also the only one of us with the exact genius-fueled insanity required to immaculately whittle these little gems. When our clients see their home rendered in Lilliputian form, the drawings and plans are usually cast aside and all attention is immediately given to the model. It’s like watching kids at Christmas. We’ve even had a handful of clients break into tears (gratefully, in a good way).

Seeing something in miniature seems to make clear to the client the idea of the reality of the whole. Therefore, the model has always been an invaluable tool in the architectural profession and we’re happy to continue that age-old tradition in our practice.

Besides, everybody loves a toy.

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  1. March 27, 2012

    Charlie is so talented. Seeing the models in the office is one of my favorite things; aside from talking to all the creative people.

  2. limestoneandboxwoods #
    March 27, 2012

    So cool! Long live the model and hand drawn prints!

    Enjoyed seeing some new pieces of your work. Lots of great details to soak in. I’ll be studying for awhile.

  3. March 27, 2012

    These are gorgeous! I can certainly understand clients being very emotional when seeing their model.

  4. LandArch76 #
    March 28, 2012

    Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonerful!

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