Does any architectural firm still need model maker(hand made)?


I know most of the firms are using 3D Print instead of "hand made", such as: cardboard ,chiboard, balsa wood...etc.

but i just wondering does any architectural firm still perfer/looking for "hand made"?



Jun 7, 11 4:34 am

yes... lots.. 3d print is ridiculously expensive. 'hand-made' models as you call them are still used widely for design purposes whereas 3d print models are used for exhibition or to impress clients.

Jun 7, 11 6:57 am

Being able to slap together a quick massing model can be pretty helpful. For prof. models a lot of firms simply hire another company to do the work. 

Even if one farms out the work, most models aren't made from 3D printers (yet?). That seemless blobby look that's done over and over again in school isn't the best way to describe most of what's designed or built in the world.

Laser cutters to get your individual pieces and then using hands to assemble them seems to be a good half-way point.

Jun 7, 11 9:44 am

alot of offices i know still need good presentation models, a ex-colleague of mine made it his business when he lef and he's def kept busy.

good models cost big bucks!!!

Jun 7, 11 11:15 am

our office has a model builder full time plus an intern or two to help.  These are incredibly intricate models he does, and do cost a lot of time and money to create, but they are far and away the most important presentation materials we produce... even more so than drawings... so... yes... hand made models are still crucial, and 3D printing, though useful for somethings, is far to limited to eliminate the need for model builders.

Jun 7, 11 11:33 am

when you do expensive, intricate models, are they broken out separately in the contract as an additional service or does the money someone get built into the standard fee structure?


Jun 7, 11 12:04 pm

Do your models do BIM?

Jun 7, 11 1:35 pm

yes, i know a lot of "big firms" hire another company to do the final presentation model. it is extremely expensive, I saw one model sell at ebay which cost $16,999(original$90,000). But i still wondering who do the sketch model? do they hire another company to do that?


Jun 7, 11 3:04 pm

"big firms" will usually do process models in house, but will have special departments: SOM  has a model shop, OMA often advertises a Model Intern position, either way, kept clear of design side of the office.

Jun 7, 11 8:37 pm

i still build models for firms but it all depends on the level they want it at and what it's for.... from study models to full laser cut final presentation models...


Jun 20, 11 9:50 pm

I think most offices tend to prefer the best tool for the job.  

Are you referring to presentation models or in-house 'study' models?  [Sometimes they are one and the same.]

In general, we use a combination of 'analog' [hand cut and fabricated] components along with 'digital' components - laser and 3d printed forms, to build both our study and presentation models.

I would say that if the firm in question is using calculus generated forms, then its silly to use analog processes.  But I would temper that by saying they can be combined, if the design intent is commiserate.  

Your question would be better answered with some specificity:  Are you making study or presentation models?  What kind of office are you working for or trying to work for?


Situ studio is very good at the model game:

Perhaps you might gain something from them...


Jun 21, 11 6:27 pm

Yes, I work for a 40 person architecture firm and we have two designated model builders.  Although 3d printing has come a long way it will never replace skilled hands on labor. 

So now i'm interested how I can go from working at this firm to bidding on jobs and moving on in an independent fashion.  Are there any sites out there that would allow me to bid on a job.  Or is this field soley based on connections?


Dec 6, 11 3:02 pm

Shouldn't the architects themselves be making the models? Especially the sketch models at the beginning.

I am very much in favour of architects being involved at every step. the architect needs to constantly change and adapt the design so they should be the ones making the models. better that than wasting their time fighting with contractors etc.

In the age of 'sustainability' and 'energy efficiency' is it right that we spend 1000s of hours on computers/ laser cutters/ 3d model making equipment? Only to stick a few solar panels on the roof and label it 'energy efficient'? If we resort back to drawing boards, lead, glue and cardboard then we reduce energy use in the design process? Heating and lighting is all you need!!!!!

Dec 7, 11 7:42 am

No, cause then I'd be out of a job.  But seriously I train every architect how to safely use our shop so they are fully capable of jumping in at anytime.  They do occasionally help in the massing phase, but ever since I was hired 3 years ago they generally have us the model makers build everything time allowing. 

The major benefit being they have a lot more time to study alternate schemes and so on.  Also the quality of the work is so much better, allowing us to make and present study models and high quality laser cut models to clients without ever leaving the building.  It should be against the law to build any form of architecture without first building a model.    Plain and simple We can get far more done safer then any architect.

Imagine if they had to worry but every material in the model getting it ordered shipped and put together while also maintaining the tools and so fourth. They tried this and it was one problem after another, so they excitedly hired me and I have talked to many of my coworkers about this and they are all very grateful they don't have to spend countless hrs in the shop.  Also means far less nights where people are here until 3am for weeks on end which use to happen very frequently.

As far as sustainability goes you have to be kidding.  There's nothing sustainable about design process that accounts for the final design of a building.  I have never seen as much waste as I see working in this job, but its all easily justified when you have a tangible object in your hand that explains clearly what you have in mind.  no 3d drawing can do that so I imagine many firms would benefit from an in house model maker. 

Also slapping solar panels on a building does not make efficient, do your homework! 



Dec 7, 11 3:06 pm

we do tonnes of models in design development.  some we make ourselves, some (ok, most) we have interns do, but it is all in house.  we wouldn't make a presentation model ourselves.  that would not be an effective use of the little time we have.  we may print the ocassional model with the 3d printer nearby, but that is special.  the really big offices spend a LOT of money to make beautiful models though.  we can't afford it so the clients have to live with our working models too.  so far no complaints.

Dec 7, 11 4:55 pm

Andrew - I'm aware that sticking solar panels on the roof does not make it energy efficient and I was speaking sarcastically. The point I was trying to make make was that this seems to be the approach of many architect's/ developers to mask other 'energy inefficiencies' and tick the boxes so to speak. The main point I was trying to make was that we could look at how the project is designed and how much energy the design process consumes. Isn't this important too?

Will - Should we not also look at what architects do spend their time doing? Could we not free up time elsewhere (say filling in forms, replacing 'health and safety meetings with common sense' or centralising the cost calculation process with the architect). We need to return the architect to the centre and enable them to devote more time to design development.

Dec 8, 11 6:07 am

I figured, but had a little fun with the thought anyways!   I like your general concern for the process but I think if we worry to much about it, time is taken away from the major concern, a quality design.  With that said I agree with you that it is important and there there are def  many things that can be done in the process to reduce energy consumption.  

One of the major benefits of My firm is that we are design only, so we dont have quite as much time wasted with meetings and so on.  We let the architect of record or engineer deal with there business allowing our arch's to stick to design!  I believe this is a fairly new concept in the arch world but I really have no idea how many firms are working this way.

Will- Would you be willing to pay someone more then an intern, basically an architects salary to help produce presentation quality models in house?  Saving you and your clients thousands of dollars over a full model making firm!


Dec 8, 11 9:45 am

hey andrew no we aren't that scale of firm.  but even then i think not.  model making is design process. the model shop is next to the architects desks and we all use the materials there as part of our job.  interns make it possible to explore more deeply which is really useful.  presentation models?  sure if there is a budget it makes sense to hire a pro, and if we did it enough we would have someone in house.  but like i say we aren't that big, or at least not yet.

i would never outsource drafting though.  we do a huge amount of design as we work through drawing sets for DD. at least 50% of design work is done at that time.  can't quite imagine how it would work to let someone else work all the details out...sounds difficult to manage. 

Dec 8, 11 4:21 pm

Asalamualiekum, I am Hasan Aslam. I am very expert in making of Architectural Models, This is my passion  I am very needy I want job regarding this can anyone help me please! I made some designs and sold also my page is also there in facebook or in google 'unbelievable design same as an architecture' 

Mar 11, 18 8:22 pm
Non Sequitur

I would not call those images on your FB page "expert".

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