Exploring Design Through Physical Modeling

Creating excitement, curiosity, and understanding with a physical model.

We will admit that getting goosebumps about a freshly printed Construction Document set is a feeling that only architects and engineers can relate to. However, holding a building in the palm of your hand that you can hold at eye level, peek into, and take apart is something we can all agree is a much more exciting way to explore what a building will look like.
Design Collaborative recently provided a physical model to a client to create excitement, curiosity, and discussion in anticipation of their new campus project. The model was used at a gala event to unveil the project to physicians and hospital staff. Before that event, very few members of the St. Rita’s Medical Center staff knew this project was being developed.
Design Collaborative and St. Rita’s Medical Center thought that a physical model would be a great way to engage people interested in learning more about the building. By providing a physical model, viewers could get a sense of scale, layout, and opportunities that the project would bring to St. Rita’s Medical Center and their capacity to serve their community.

Two specific feature areas that the model helps depict are a 240-person capacity auditorium and a teaching simulation suite that will help educate young physicians and existing staff on new healthcare procedures and standards.

To deliver on this model, Design Collaborative collaborated with an architectural model shop. The project architects created a detailed, 3-dimensional Revit file from which the model maker extracted the necessary information to start the process of fabrication. With a combination of 3D printing and 2D laser cutting, they created the parts and pieces using acrylic and carefully assembled each piece to create the final model. In addition to the building model, our team at DC used a 3D printer to add scaled medical equipment for the simulation suite, highlighting overhead exam lights and surgical tables. The team also printed 2D floor plans as an additional layer of information to show how the interior spaces would facilitate flexible furniture in student study spaces. To allow those viewing the model to peek into the spaces, the roof of the model can be removed so viewers can see each room, the circulation of the building, and how the exterior will allow a good amount of natural sunlight into the classrooms.

As architects, we enjoy seeing clients interact with physical models. Seeing a small version of a big vision creates enthusiasm and excitement for the future of project!

Learn more about the upcoming Graduate Medical Education Center at St. Rita’s Medical Center!
Mercy Health news release
Hometown Stations story

Megan Yoder
Associate, Graduate Architect