23 May 2017

A-Frame Burger Joint (1/72 scale study model)


In this post detailing my return to modelling, I talk about being fascinated by a model of a hospital I saw as a wee lad, and recently, I've expanded my modelling interests to include architectural models, starting with my test model of the former Bata Head Office in Don Mills, Ontario. I definitely have a preference for mid-20th Century modern architecture and its (now) retro futuristic look, so looking around the internet for suitable candidates for future projects, I immediately fell in love with the design of these small a-frame diners.

This a-frame design dates a little earlier in the 20th Century, the first instance I can find being the late '20s or early '30s and the burger chain, Hardee's, used this for many stores in their chain across the USA. I'll be taking the design and incorporate many details from real a-frames to make my own unique burger joint as part of an action-packed diorama.

1/72 or 1/87 scale?

Based on a particular element involved in the diorama (sorry for the vagueness, but I'd like to keep the reveal a surprise) I initially designed this to be 1/72 scale, but I found some elements for the project that were in HO scale (1/87) so I've decided to reduce the scale of the diner to match.

Lots of visual interest.

If you look at this structure directly from the front, directly from the back, or directly from overhead, it looks like an ordinary rectangle...but from all other views it's got lots of dynamic visual interest and almost appears as though there aren't any 90° angles at all.

Necessary mechanicals.

This is a great little set and with some proper painting and additional wire detailing, these will look nice and realistic on my diner. For some reason I have a fascination for mechanicals like these and kind of can't wait to be able to use more of these parts on other buildings.

HVAC sprue tour.

Two parts trees are all you get, but the parts are well-molded and nicely detailed. It says HO scale on the box and instructions but, once I put them on my model, they look a little large –and I'll be making the building smaller!

HVAC test fitting.

These HVAC units look pretty good on this 1/72 scale building but look like they might actually be 1/48 scale...which means they'll be way out of scale when I reduce the whole building to 1/87. There are a couple of smaller box units on the sprue tree, but no smaller vents. I'll do another test fit when the new, smaller building is done (or another test model is built) and see if I need new, smaller roof parts.

New numbers.

I really can't remember now why I decided to make the whole project HO scale down from 1/72, other than the whole diorama will take up a smaller footprint. I found and used an excellent scale converter online which helped my math-addled brain immensely. I've scrawled all the new measurements on the test model, alternating from centimetres to millimetres (wherever the closest round numbers were), and these will be my guides for the new, smaller diner.










22 May 2017

Small Pond Shipyard Sci-Fi Projects List, PART 2


So many of my modelling projects fall into this this category that I've decided to split them up in groups of ten to avoid an overly long scroll down the list. I'll do the same for my Automotive and Architectural projects when necessary. My first ten sci-fi projects (which include my novice attempts in the 1990s) can be found RIGHT HERE.

The following are more or less in chronological order (some projects are being built concurrently; some are temporarily on hold for various reasons; some are simply very fast builds and get done before the more complex ones, etc.).














21 May 2017

Bata HQ (1/144 scale study model)


This is another modelling project whose inspiration goes way back to my childhood in the late '70s and early '80s. Growing up in Canada with a Macedonian cultural heritage, the main meeting place for us was St. Clement's Orthodox Church in Toronto for various functions: weddings, Christenings, and many, many dances (outside of Christmas and Easter, we didn't attend regular church services, nor did my parents insist that my sister and I go to Macedonian school). I bring that up only because more than 90% of the time we would pass this building on our way to and from church (and the dozen or so times I'd visited the Ontario Science Centre just around the corner from Bata HQ) –otherwise, I might never have known about this relatively short-lived gem.

Heading west along Eglinton Avenue (just east of the Don Valley) I'd see the this strange and beautiful building before we turned left onto Don Mills Road. Waiting for the light to change I'd often have ample time to admire this lovely, unique, futuristic, bright white thing (the view below is how I'd see it from the road). I would wonder what "Bata" meant and, early on, mistook it for a certain building from a couple of favourite current TV shows (I wasn't able to compare them side-to-side, so, to my seven--or-eight-year-old eyes, the one blocky building on a grassy hill easily resembled the other).

Misguided youth.

Designed by architect John B. Parkin and completed in 1965, it graced that hill for decades, but barely got to see the 21st Century; it was demolished in the late 2000s to make way for the Aga Khan Museum (which was completed in 2014). Toronto Star architecture critic Christopher Hume said around the time of its demolition: "Surely there's an element of irony when an architecturally worthy building must be destroyed in the name of culture."

The Bata design had its critics from the get-go (what doesn't?) but I agree with Hume when he gave it this praise: "Situated on a height of land in Toronto's north end, the simple, modular edifice exemplifies the ideal of the building in a park. Simple and seemingly weightless, it rests on rows of columns, reminiscent of an ancient Greek temple. Unadorned yet poetic, the architecture pays homage to the past while extolling the virtues of the future."

No blueprints.

Around 2010 or 2011 I was looking around on Google maps and wanted to have a look at this building from the aerial view that application afforded –and that's when I discovered it was gone! I hadn't been in that area for years, so I never had an idea that it was demolished and replaced by something else. When I returned to model-making in 2015 and eventually started thinking of branching out beyond spaceships and cars to include scratch-built architectural projects, this building was the first on my list.

My plan is to build this in styrene as part of a diorama including the grassy hill and accurate landscaping...and maybe even lighting the offices if I can find suitable reference images. But first I'd have to build it with simple and cheap materials (cereal box cardboard and masking tape) to get a handle on the measurements and scale (which, to make the project manageable, would be 1/144).

New details!

Since the building doesn't exist anymore, I had to scour the internet for reference images, and managed to collect quite a few, but nothing showing the roof, so that'll have to be creatively extrapolated. I never saw the back of the building in real life (even when I worked at the Radisson Hotel in the summer of 1989 –which was nearby on the same road!– so the six tower blocks on the "backside" (actually the front entrance) were a revelation to me. If only I'd been interested enough to take photos that summer (or any time before its demolition).

My measurements were approximations based on a more-or-less flat view from the side and an estimation of the height of the doors there. I think I need to make the top block a little taller to look more like it consists of two floors and, more obviously, I need to have two rows of nine windows on the front side, not eight.

For the surface treatments I painted the base and tower blocks with acrylic and the windows are simply drawings on paper, taped to the sides. Plus, this is a very basic study model and leaves out a lot of nice details like the column tops and the porte-cochere above the back entrance.

Fresh and clean and new.

This is what it looked like in the mid-to-late 1960s after its completion. It's so clean and modern, with some great details like the corner cuts and slight lower taper to the office windows, and those nifty umbrella-like radiating supports atop the columns. I've got my work cut out for me to accurately portray this wonderful structure in miniature. My modelling skills are growing with each build, so I know when I'll be suitably ready for this project.



She married into the Bata family and left behind her dreams of becoming a great architect to successfully help develop the Bata company. But look at her: she's so stylish and elegant here that if you told me that she completed her architecture studies and single-handedly designed this building, I'd believe it. I haven't found anything in my research to suggest this, so it's pure speculation on my part, but I like to think she had a big influence on the decision to go with the design (if not having an influence on the design itself) for Bata's head office in Don Mills.