Big Sky Montana Topography Project


Model: Size 5 feet X 11 feet, Scale 1″ = 400′

Site Location:

Big Sky, MT  59716

Project Info

Archetype3D, the expert topographic model maker, just completed and delivered a dramatic 3D topography model. The Big Sky Montana project highlighted two large developments for the Big Sky Real Estate Company Spanish Peaks, and Moonlight Basin.   

The photos below depict the completed model, including the custom-made table. As part of the sales center, potential clients can view the impressive display while looking at the window at the actual Big Sky mountain peak.

Mike Adams, Big Sky Real Estate Company Director of Sales and Marketing, stated, “your team created a spectacular topography model for our company.  The detail, the color, the stand all exceeded our expectations.  We are thrilled with every aspect of dealing with you and your company. Thank you so much.”  

Client: Big Sky Realty

Completion: November 2017

Project Type: Residential

Lead Model Designer: Michael Steinkoenig

Let’s Build Something

Building 3D scale models since 1984. Our talented staff of model builders is ready to assist you in the design and build of your project.

Are Completed Drawings Required For An Architectural Model?

The answer to a very common question is NO, you do not have to have completed drawings for us to bid your project. In fact, it is always best to get your model maker involved as early as possible, even in the initial drawing phase of the design. With early involvement, you can get cost estimates to put into your budget and be able to schedule the entire project with completion dates for the plans and the model. It is always helpful to secure a timeframe for your work so that there are no delays in delivery. We have extensive experience and have most likely already built similar projects to the one you are proposing. Cost estimates are often based on extensive past experiences.

When plans are complete, please understand that any changes can have a significant impact on the model itself. We take plans very literally and try not to deviate at all from what we see. The designer is the artist and our job as craftsmen is to fully realize the designer’s vision. If we can see it in the drawings we can build it. Conversely, if the building has an area that the drawings do not show clearly, we will need to ensure we have open communication and come to a consensus. There are always a few clarifications needed between the design and the client We are both working to create a great sales tool and in this phase of the construction everyone needs to communicate clearly.

Special details are also important for your model maker to see. Things like bench details or wrought iron fencing can add beautiful elements to the model so being able to see these types of details in drawings or reference photos is crucial.

Colors are always a challenge to properly match. We can only accept colors as physical samples or color system numbers that we can get samples for. If color chips don’t tell the whole story such as in a variegated stone pattern, a photograph is acceptable as long as it is printed on a piece of paper, approved by the designer and physically mailed to us. Colors CANNOT be sent as email attachments since we mix our colors very precisely and computer monitors and
printers are notorious for altering shade and tone.

We take coloration very seriously. To get final approvals, we will construct a small colored wall section to send to our clients for approvals. This is the moment of final approvals for textures and colors before they are applied to the entire model.

Architectural Model Uses

What is your model going to be used for?  Knowing the use of the model helps us visualize the final product while we are discussing the details. Often, the simpler models will get the needed points across without every detail displayed, and at a much lower cost. We need to know who the audience and what they are looking for.

Mass Models
One great example of the use of a mass model is for a design review board meeting. Perhaps all they are interested in the relative heights of the surrounding structures. This is something that is very hard to convincingly convey in an animation or rendering. A model showing nothing but the building masses will instantly demonstrate the issues and allow the right questions to be asked. Mass models are also used for internal design reviews and study. Going over a project with a client during the design process can be challenging if your client has trouble visualizing based on drawings. A quick and relatively inexpensive model can save valuable time and instantly resolve any elements that are in question.

It is a completely different story when bringing a model before the public. When you have an audience that is looking buy, it is good to show every element that can help sell your concept. At that point, a DETAILED MODEL is what you may need.

Detailed Models
The public can be very literal. When they see a model the brain sometimes translates it into a very small reality.

Any questionable elements become issues. A detailed or “realistic” model shows every design element and color in an accurate fashion. When selling to the public, you can never know what elements will close the deal. Perhaps it is the location of the swimming pool or the view from the balcony or access to retail space. Including all of the important marketing highlights of the model is essential to successful sales.

There is room in-between these two extremes. With careful planning, we can work with you to create what we call a Semi-Detailed model.

Semi-Detailed Models
Often the premium sales tools are desired but the budget just isn’t there to afford that kind of work. We often bida project as a full detailed model only to find out that we need to make compromises to hit the numbers. Your model maker can guide you to areas that can be simplified without completely losing the character of the model. Perhaps instead of clear reflective windows, we make them from a grey opaque material saving us a layer of information. Perhaps the textures of the brick or siding are not as critical as the color, eliminating another layer and saving us more time in construction. These choices must be carefully selected and written out specifically in the bid so that everyone is on the same page and understands what the finished product will look like.

2. What size will your model be?
Don’t worry about the scale of the model at this point, just think about the size. Points to consider when picking a size include: Where is the model going to live? Will it be in the same place for the entire sales cycle or will it be moved? Will your audience come to the model or do you have to bring the model to a trade show or boardroom for the presentations?

Answering these questions will help to put an overall size on the physical model and determine the type of case needed for shipping and presentations.

Some models, like this one that we did for the Presidio in San Francisco, needed to be large for a showroom but sections of the development also needed to be taken to individual meetings. The solution was a four-part model with each section shipped in easy-to-handle, rolling cases that are light enough to be taken to meetings. After the meeting, the section could be reassembled and locked together. If the model is being displayed in a showroom or trade show, a heavy wooden case with pallet skids is more appropriate for safe travel. We have also built models that fit in a small suitcase-sized case to be carried onto an airplane for safe travel around the country.

A New Model Shipped: N Carolina Architectural Scale Model

I suppose that this is a sign that the economy is starting to turn. We just completed an elaborate sales model for a residential sales office. A few years ago we were building four of these a month but more recently these types of projects are fewer and farther between. East West Partners in South Carolina hired us to construct there new development called “7 Calhoun”

This model with internal lighting is a large project both physically and in the amount of detail included. It is always fun to work on scale models of commercial buildings that are out of state where we can build palm trees and let the ivy grow wild on the brickwork.

Elements of Landscaping Scale Model

The building forms a triangle with an internal courtyard. Fountains and Lilly ponds accent this lovely, quiet hideaway. The residence is also adjacent to a public park that is designed with many paths and seating areas.

The design of this project was lead by architect Stephen Ramos of LS3P Associates. A project of this complexity takes close communication during all phases of construction. The partnership between client, architect and scale model maker was very evident and successful in the construction of this spectacular display.

Trade Secrets, Client Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements

We take your project’s trade secrets and projects that require non-disclosure agreements seriously at Archetype 3D. Our clients come back to us time and again because they trust we respect their right to maintain a cloak of secrecy to protect their intellectual property. As much as we work to build scale models based on your drawings’ specifications we work to deliver them on your terms for confidentiality as well.

The images here vaguely represent some secret projects (or not). We are disappointed we can not show you some of the most interesting models that we have built—they are top secret after all. We only take pictures for future bragging rights when there will be a time that “secret” project will become public. Then and only then, with your permission do we present the model expertise that went into building it. Until then we quietly go about our business and never to say a word.

There are two types of models we work on that often require confidential protection. First there are scale model projects from inventors or companies with new products. We understand why people don’t want us to show images or discuss this work as competition can be fierce and the roll out of a new product must be carefully orchestrated. The second are the type of clients who takes secrecy very seriously, especially with military and aerospace engineering clients – secrets are no joke to them. We have done work for military training camps, military field equipment and space craft like satelites.

Recently, we have begun work with a client project where the model maker working on one section cannot see what the rest of the shop is building. We have constructed a separate workspace with access to the model making tools that are needed but not to the rest of the shop in order to complete the work.

If maintaining confidential integrity surrounding your trade secrets and intellectual property are vital to your success—we are the model makers for you.

Let's Build Something

Let one of our talented model makers discuss your project with you.
You don’t need to have your plans finalized. We pride ourselves in
being able to work with the customer from start to finish in the
design and build process.
3000 Airport Drive Erie Colorado Unit 201A 80516
+1 (303) 449-0878

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