From the standpoint of representation, and despite the advent of computer graphics and animation, the architectural model has persisted in being a privileged way of expressing architectural intentions. The irresistible iconic relation between the model and the building, and the intimacy witnessed through this association, has unquestionably contributed to this survival. Because in the model no extra interpretive energy is needed to grasp the intended, and because there is definitely a pleasure in seeing something big represented by something similar to it but smaller, the critical denigration of model-making has been minimum. This is unlike the case of the plan and other classical modes of projecting buildings where the conventional nature of representation has opened the gates for questioning their legitimacy. From the angle of making and performing, model-making has also remained a very powerful means of exploring ideas that have 3-d space as their support. The relative absence of a cognitive distance between intentions and their crystallization in the sensible realm, due essentially to the paramount role the hand directly plays in the shaping of a given design idea, has reinforced an interest in model-making as a means for expressing the immediate and the spontaneous. A closer relation the other visual arts has followed, and the architectural model has become a competent candidate not only for expressing design ideas but also emotions and feelings. The author, who is both an architect and an artist, seems to be implicitly alluding to these stands in one fashion or the other.
Now this Studio guide to making and using architectural design models begins with an introduction to the equipment, materials and model types. In detail, Chapter Two tackles basic techniques for assembling model components. Cutting, attaching, fitting, templating and finishing routines are provided with clear instructions and illustrations. Chapter Three, I think, remains the heart of the guide. Here the author explores a framework for conceiving and using models. As a pedagogic section, this chapter is full of tutoring guidelines and is a meticulously comprehensive investigation. Much of what is suggested in relation to scale, ideas, manipulation and development of models remains focussed. Mill's analysis here illustrates the paramount role models can play not only in representing defined architectural ideas but also as the prime generators of information without the aid of drawings or exact scales. The dialectical relation between sketch models and concept drawings is investigated nonetheless. But it is the stress on the idea that architectural thinking could be deeply investigated through model-making, with all possible alternatives, that is interesting. "Often, " Mill writes, " new directions emerge that do not follow the original intention. Instead of ignoring these and steering the design along preconceived paths, it can be profitable to let go of earlier ideas and follow the implications suggested by the model. This may involve following the design through a strong shift in direction or even returning to an earlier generation in preference to latter versions. " Other observations like these follow. In Chapter Four, the author applies a step-by-step case study of concepts and techniques in relation to the design of five cases: a residence, a multifamily house, a sculptural foundry, an office building and an urban park. These projects trace the evolution of design from early conceptual stages to finishing models. Many assembly techniques and strategies presented in Chapters Two and Three are shown to convey possible applications in the context of evolving designs. Chapter Five (Creating Curvilinear Forms and Special techniques), presents a range of techniques for making sculptural shapes. "Because sculptural elements are more often needed as components of a model, many of the examples present ideas for creating individual shapes. These can be expanded to entire models if desired." In Chapter Six, examples of model usage from the architecture practice are provided. The author reminds us that in practice, "modeling offers one of the strongest ways of understanding the impact of design decisions on the built work and is of particular value in working with complex geometries." The suggested projects offer examples of models from several types of practices. Many of the strategies discussed in Chapter Three and Four can be seen at work, as well as the connection between built work and the model history that helped form them. Finally, Chapter Seven provides useful advice related to alternative media, related models, transferring model dimensions, photography and detailed presentation models.
As a conclusion, Designing With Models contributes to the (modest) body of literature on model-making in a significant way. It is, to my knowledge, the first complete step-by-step guide to fundamental and well-developed modeling. One could not fault the visual clarity and graphic organization of the work. The black and white photographs do not stand isolated but are balanced by the supplemented comments. The text includes sufficient information for a thorough understanding of the proposed model-making techniques. Although some of it is concise, the text is for the most part well written, and to the point. The lack of a bibliographical section, however, is somehow disappointing, but then the book does not pretend to be a theoretical treatise or a scholarly work.