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The Model Architect

Timothy Richards of Bath, England, turned his love of design into a cottage industry. He makes architectural models—not from cardboard, blocks or foam core, but from strong British Gypsum Crystacal plaster. Richards is inspired by Jean Pierre and Francois Fouquet, the 18th- and 19th-century father-and-son team whose work in plaster was much preferred over cork or terra cotta. When Thomas Jefferson needed a model of his design for the State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia, he turned to the Fouquets. When the curators for the Palladio exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York needed models, they turned to Richards. He began 23 years ago, in his attic and on his own. Today eight people busy themselves in his workshop, spending 80 to 400 hours on each project. “I’ve had to make my own market,” says Richards. “Now, we’ve got 60 models on site.”
 

Richards’ model of the Ca d’Ora, or “Golden House” on the Grand Canal in Venice, is crafted from plaster, lead, brass and gold leaf, with turquoise, handmade glass windows. Courtesy Architects and Artisans.

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