Posts tagged with "Model Building":

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Inside Gulliver's Gate: New York's model-making treasure trove

I put an oversized plastic key into an illuminated lock, turned it, and out popped Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace. Another lock summoned Scotland's Loch Ness Monster and another sent a helicopter flying above New York City's skyline. Where was I? Gulliver's Gate. Inside the former New York Times office building, there's some large-scale small-scale building going on. Today, Gulliver's Gate opened its doors to the public, unveiling a $40 million new tourist attraction to Times Square. On show is a 50-nation display with 300 small-scale scenes, covering more than 6,500 square foot. The first location visitors encounter after receiving their own key at the ground-floor reception is a miniature Manhattan. The model was made in Brooklyn by a team of 16 who took 358 days to craft the 950-square-foot scene. The almost year-long effort, though, was worth it. Details down to vases for bars and free standing coffee machines can be seen if you look close enough, meanwhile, New York's skyscrapers, truncated by the ceiling, are exhibited as light forms. "These are an interpretation, New York is a city of light," a spokesperson told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) at the opening ceremony. Additionally, visitors can see a myriad of dramas (almost all transport-based) played out on New York's down-sized streets: from an overturned flatbed truck to fire engines rescuing people stranded on rooftops. These scenes are static, though the overall experience is kinetic and interactive. A section of Manhattan cuts through Grand Central Station, highlighting the station's ornate interior complete with its signature ceiling. Below, the story continues as Amtrack and MTA Subway trains pass underneath, travelling surprisingly freely without interference of train traffic or other bizarre disturbances. The selling point (or rather, key to success) for Gulliver's Gate, however, is its interactivity—an unusual quality for a miniature model exhibition, where typically no touching is ever allowed. Of course, the same applies here, but to quell the thirst of your inner five-year-old yearning to play, keys handed out to each visitor allow you call all sorts of moving diorama's into action. Sadly (though probably for the best) the moving trains, cars, and boats are not controllable. New York City may be the first location visitors see, but it is certainly not the only one on display. The Middle East, mainland Europe, Britain, Niagara, Russia, South America and Asia all feature, boasting their most iconic architecture. OMA, I.M. Pei, Moshe Safdie, Daniel Libeskind, Santiago Calatrava, Bjarke Ingels, Pelli Clarke Pelli, Frank Gehry, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Gensler just to name a few, all have their buildings on display at 1:87 scale. An odd number, the scale is used in conjunction with the H0 Gauge model railroad locomotives on display—the gauge (gap between the tracks) is per the standards set by the National Model Railroad Association. The only location not to adhere to this is Britain, where the standard scale is 1:76, a scale that works with the established 00 Gauge for railroad models and thus British model railroad accessories. There are more than 1,000 trains on show, not to mention 10,000 cars and trucks and roughly 100,000 people. At the grand opening, AN spoke to Head of Model-Making, Adrian Davies. Davies, from England, was working on a scale airplane, but took the time to explain that he and his team of 20 are continuing to build despite today's opening. He also said that models were made using architects' plans as well as photography and "lots of Google Earth." Unlike other miniature model mega-exhibitions, Gulliver's Gate is proudly a work in progress. Such openness is usually only reserved for traveling railroad model exhibits, where community emerges from informality as enthusiasts flaunt their back-of-house rolling stock. Lighting and other electrics are managed by a nuclear-style control system, the operation of which is on view to the public. An airport scene, designed in collaboration with Ben Krone of Gradient Architecture, is in the works and can also be seen. Africa and Mars too, staff told AN, are being built, but are currently hidden away. Visitors can also make their own models... of themselves. A full-body scanner and 3-D printer allow you to create miniature versions of yourself which you can either take home or leave behind as a permanent “model citizen” of Gulliver’s Gate. Gulliver's Gate can be found at 216 West 44th Street and is open from 10 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. every day (last entry at 9:30 p.m.).
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Chicago's Center for Lost Arts provides space and tools for architects and designers to get their hands dirty

Charles Adler knows a thing or two about startups. A founder of Kickstarter, Adler is now on the ground helping makers, architects, artists, and inventors get their hands dirty with a new experimental venture.

The Center for Lost Arts is a shared space dedicated to making and being around others with a penchant for working with their hands. Now in its second iteration, Lost Arts is using the next six months to test and tweak a membership model.

Members of Lost Arts will have access to the 10,000-square-foot shop space on Chicago’s Goose Island. The space is filled with all of the tools that small companies and independent designers can rarely afford for themselves. Sawing machines, CNC routers, circular saws, and 3-D printers abound in the former industrial space. The large space is divided by use; a lounge area, a coworking space, a clean-working area, event space, and the shop. For those not familiar with a piece of equipment, one of Lost Arts’ experts will be on hand to provide guidance and safety instruction.

After starting with an initial group of 60 invited members—comprised of artists,architects, designers, musicians, and entrepreneurs—the project is now open for new members. Different levels of membership are designated by when and how much time you are allowed to use the space. A weekend membership starts at eighty dollars per month, with a full-time membership costing five hundred dollars per month. The month-to-month membership allows those who might only need access for one month to complete a commission or build a model or prototype on a budget. This works well for small architecture and design firms that often need model building space, but usually only have office space.

The large industrial building in which Lost Arts is located is one of many owned by Chicago developer R2 Companies. With its sights set on transforming the formerly industrial Goose Island into a tech and research and design hub, R2 is a big supporter of Lost Arts, renting the space to the start up for one dollar. Comcast is also involved providing fiber internet to the space. More support has come from institutions such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which will be holding a class in the space this next semester. The first iteration of Lost Arts, a one-month test of the idea, was (appropriately) funded through Adler’s former venture: $11,000 was raised on Kickstarter. 

Lost Arts is not alone in providing space targeted at startups and small practices, but it is one of the few dedicated to making physical products. In the Merchandise Mart, 1871 Chicago focuses on computer programing and business startups, while a handful of coworking spaces across the city are simply a place to have a desk. The shared economy which all of these spaces are a part of is still evolving. Young architecture firms are some of its earliest adopters, bringing together lost arts and new models of practice. For more on Los Arts, see their website here.

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This Seattle architect built a basement man cave housing 250,000 neatly arranged LEGO bricks

One Seattle architect’s much ballyhooed basement isn’t built from LEGO bricks, but it houses 250,000 of them in 150 meticulously sorted bins. Jeff Pelletier, who runs a small architecture practice Board & Vellum, has amassed a collection worth an estimated $25,000, with containers categorized by color, food, Lego leaves, heads, torsos, Lego latticework, satellite dishes, legs, gold bricks, red bricks, and lime. When Pelletier bought the unfurnished house in 2006, he found a lone red Lego brick in the attic and construed it as a sign that it was the place to put down roots–and his LEGO man cave. Like many aficionados of the self-adhering plastic bricks, Pelletier has been collecting since toddlerhood. At age 16, he relegated his collection to the storage room, unearthing it again in 2005 when he resumed collecting and acquired the collection he has today. When he remodeled his whimsical-looking lime-and-raspberry home in 2011, he decided to transform his basement into a media room, bar, and giant Lego repository, where Pelletier has built a Lego library, ships, bars, houses he’s lived in and even a miniature version of his brightly colored home. “Since I was 2 years old, I always wanted to be an architect. I think a lot of that was because of LEGO,” Pelletier told Komo News.