Making a Model of 1000M

30 January 2020

The 1000M Sales Gallery Model; photo by Sheri Whitko.
The 1000M Sales Gallery Model; photo by Sheri Whitko.


With 1000M recently added to the Chicago Architecture Center’s City Model, we sat down with the brilliant minds at Columbian Model & Exhibit Works to discuss the model-making process, from tracking new developments, to making models and finally introducing these new growths into the miniature, modeled Chicago. 

But our ties to their team go even deeper than that Columbian Model & Exhibit Works is also the creator of the large and intricate model of 1000M, a showstopping piece in our award-winning Sales Gallery. During our talk and tour of their studio, the team explained the process behind creating such an intricate model, and described what makes the model exceptional. 


Making a Building Model

To create the exterior skin of a building model, Columbian Model & Exhibit Works starts first with the architect’s drawings. They examine each floor as its own unique slice of the tower, examining how the building’s shape changes as they go up the structure. The structure and all its components are then flattened out to be laser-cut, and are painted separately before coming together. Their team describes the process: “Basically, we approach the design in the same way a contractor does, except we’re using plastic and paper instead of concrete and glass.” 

In the case of the 1000M model, these pieces were wrapped around a laser-cut and pre-assembled lightcore. Overall, the intensive process took about eight months, two months longer than typical due to the model’s level of detail and unique computer controlled lighting system.


A Standout Model

The 1000M model is unique with its intricate lighting system, which interacts with a web-based system accessed through an iPad to light individual units. The 1000M model is also the largest project that Columbian Model & Exhibit Works has ever created with a clear curtain wall, allowing Sales Gallery visitors to see into the space through the transparent-glass façade. 

We are thankful for the inspired work of the Columbian Model & Exhibit Works team, and their dedication to making the 1000M Sales Gallery model one that truly stands out from the rest.