The Value of An Architectural Model

Models are still the most powerful sales and educational tool available.

They interact with the human mind in a way that no other medium can replicate. Your project becomes interesting and exciting just by having an intriguing, smaller version of it available. This is not to downplay computer renderings and animations. These are important marketing tools that can be sent far and wide in an instant.

The model requires space and an audience which must be in the same room to get the full visceral effect. Your model might be viewed in a showroom or appropriately sized to take to meetings and events. The model becomes a more personal and interactive sales tool. It immediately demonstrates a commitment to the project and the professionalism of your company.

If you want to connect personally with your clients there is no better tool to clearly demonstrate your project than a physical model. The following questions should be very useful in framing the project and ensuring the end result is exactly what you envisioned.

Determining The Best Scale For Your Architectural Model

What scale is best for your model?  We now know the area of your model and size that you want it to be. The scale is now easily calculated. Below is a guide to typical scales and the types of sales models that are best shown in each. If you are selling interiors, you are going to need a larger scaled model to show the details. Master plan models can be built in smaller scales to show more property in a smaller size.

Different scales are used to sell different aspects of your development. A master plan can be on a small scale like 1″=100′ to sell properties and community.

1″ = 100′ (Size 6′ x 7′)

Land Development Design Model


1″ = 8′ scale (Size 4′ x 5′)

Used to show individual units, interior detail or detailed sections of a building. We build whole buildings in 1″ = 4′ scale but the size is large and they are usually built for a showroom setting.

Resort Construction Model


1″ = 4′ scale or larger (Size 4′ x 2′)

Interior Architectural Model

The model is a very personal and interactive sales tool. It immediately demonstrates a commitment to the project and the professionalism of your company.

This is the most popular scale for exterior detailed architectural models. It is easy to see most textures and other subtle details in this scale. Colorful people and cars are available from the hobby industry and most of the models are a good size for showroom display.

If you still want well-detailed exteriors but you have a larger site with multiple buildings. 1″=16′ scale might work well for your project.

1″ = 16′ scale (Size 5′ x 5′)

Beach Resort Architectural Model

Another reason this is a commonly used scale is again the hobby industry has ready-made cars and people that can populate the model.

If your focus is on the immediate site surrounding your larger development. 1″=20′ may be the best scale.

1″ = 20′ (Size 4′ x 4′)

Hotel Design Model

We can still show textures on the buildings but they are getting smaller and less easy to notice. This scale is still good for colorful (though small) people and cars.

Typically, the focus is more on the site and a little less on the buildings in this scale. 1″ = 30′ is too small to show people so cars are the only items used to give a sense of activity.

1″ = 30′ (Size 5′ x 6′)

Resort Development Model

Landscaping and water features are often as much of a focus as buildings in this scale.

1” = 50’ scales are good for showing a larger master plan designs. Building again is usually (but not always) shown as mass models. This has been a good scale to show entire golf course layouts, complex highway interchanges, and phases of master plan developments.

Scale 1″ = 50′ (Size 6′ x 7′)

City Architectural Model

Buildings are often shown as mass models when they get this small but as you can see in the image windows, doors and colors still show up well. 3D Landscaping is more limited, mostly trees, grasses, and forests although we use a lot of colors to represent different ecological zones.

1” = 300’ / 400’ / 500’ scales are mostly used to show detailed topography over a large area of land. The building can still be seen but they are little more than extruded footprints. We have used a much smaller scale on models done for the National Park Service of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons these are done with some vertical exaggeration.

1″ = 500′ and smaller (Size 4’x 5′)

Topography Scale Model


Another Scale Model for Lockheed Martin | Archetype 3D Scale Models

Scale Models can be top secret

We have constructed numerous display models for Lockheed Martin over the years. Unfortunately, Lockheed Martin works on many sensitive government projects and they are sensitive about me showing off top secret equipment. In order to avoid being thrown into the stockade, I have kept many of these really cool models to myself.

Models of existing existing equipment for trade shows

Luckily, the most recent archetype3d we have done for Lockheed Martin can be shown off because they are of equipment being used in airports and wind farms around the world. Check out the environmental models of the Wind Tracer! This is a cool device that airports use to identify dangerous wind conditions when airplanes are approaching the runway.

Small models sell big equipment

In order to show off the Wind Tracer while selling the technology to new markets, Lockheed Martin hired Archetype 3D to create several 3d scale models of this in three different scales in order to reach completely different venues.

Different scale models serve different purposes

One of the models is about 4″ across, a scale that is convenient for sales staff to carry with them to meetings or shows. We also built a larger version that is on display at the home office when it is not being used in a trade show setting. The smallest version is 1 centimeter across for use on an existing model of a wind farm to show relative scale.

This photo shows our model next to the actual Wind Tracer

Many scale model building techniques are used

Even a small model required many techniques to get right. Parts of this project were grown on our 3D printer. The main housing of this physical model though, was built from acrylic parts cut on our laser cutters. Brass fittings, screen material and custom paint were all needed to give this model a finished look.

Armstrong uses Archetype 3D models for German Trade Show | Tradeshow Scale Models

Models of heavy equipment show off products

Armstrong is a company that makes HEAVY equipment. Industrial heaters, chillers and vaporizers are some of their products. This equipment weighs thousands of pounds and can be up to 40 feet long. So the challenge is about how to present their product in a trade show in Germany that not only leaves a strong impression but also demonstrates the scope and feel of the equipment itself.

Shipping models overseas – a unique challenge

The Three models that we built were each 7′ long or tall. Custom crates were built using kilned dried wood for overseas shipping. Standard plywood would not be let off the ship in Europe for fear of invasive insects. The model crates had to be approved for international travel.

Electric heater model shows cross section:

The other problem with bringing actual equipment into a show (besides size and weight) is that you can only see the casing, not what is inside. With Archetype 3D models that is not an issue. We cut away at equipment to reveal components and functionality that is not visible from the outside. This model had a simple cut-away but often our model with have lights, interactive components, motors or even sound to make your interactive model a fun, entertaining and educational display that your customers will not soon forget.

Small models – Size is relative

This is a small representation of the Vaporizer tank. I only stand at 6’4″ and the actual tank can be over 14′ tall. This seven foot version is almost petite in it’s dimensions and much lighter, easier and cheaper to transport. Clients spend thousands each year moving heavy equipment in and out of trade show spaces. Models and dioramas become very cost effective when crating, shipping , set-up and take-down time are all considered. Trade shows are not inexpensive propositions so models that can be easily transported and used for years become a very attractive alternative.

Party in a small scale model | 3D Scale Models for Sales and Advertising

Model show city train turned into park

Selling a new concept in the Big Apple is a challenge and the solution is to get everyone involved in the party. How better to engage your customers with a new advertising concept than to build a sales models of the sales event. This event takes place on a former elevated train track that has become a city park.

Advertising model shows off event

The event is a interactive sales demonstration. The large poster are full screen displays that capture real time images taken from the cameras being sold. The diorama shows sales people give demonstrations in the amphitheater While the kiosks scattered around the park show off the products. Of course there is also a full bar to keep the visitors in good spirits.

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

Contact Us