Modeling as part of design process

The interdisciplinary design practice of Weiss/ Manfredi based in New York is well known for their integration of architecture, art, infrastructure, and landscape design in their projects. The firm relies heavily on model building as part of their design process that begins with simple sketches, progresses on to conceptual models, and culminates with detailed models depicting the final design stage. During this process, the architects use analog, digital, and physical models all of which according to them are equally important mediums for design exploration and spatial representation.

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Their award winning design for Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle is a great example of their modeling process. Located on an industrial site at the water’s edge, their design reconnects the urban core to the waterfront. A Z-shaped continuous green landscape for art descends 40 feet from the city to the river. As can be seen from the images, Weiss/Manfredi started with a conceptual model and continued to develop the design through multiple successive stages of increasingly detailed models.


The architects used a similar modeling technique to design Taekwondo Park in Korea. For this project, their conceptual model starts with a single sheet of paper with very simple cuts that effectively convey a very powerful design idea.

The work of Weiss/Manfredi suggests that physical modeling at various stages of the design process is instrumental in the development of final design.

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