22 August 2017

KGHL 790 version 1 (1/72 scale maquette)

Building and customizing (via scratch-building and kitbashing) models from kits is great fun, but sometimes it's nice to build something truly "from the ground up" (it's the Small Pond Shipyard motto, after all).

Aside from one drafting class in high school, I don't have any architecture training, but a model of a hospital was the first model I remember being aware of and which may have planted a seed in my 5- or 6-year-old brain.

My architectural interests lie quite clearly in mid-century modern, 20th Century American diners, and art deco (see below). After having so much fun building a TARDIS with chip board, learning a lot about construction, and how to handle that material, I thought making another small model, but with slightly more complex shapes, would be a good next architectural project (as a lead-up to perfecting the A-frame diner, which will be a much more complex diorama project with figures, landscaping, and possibly lighting).

For information about radio station KGHL in Billings, Montana and its origins in 1928, click the call letters above. For info on the current "Mighty 790," click here.

I've collected many images and a few architectural plans from which to build various models for years to come, but the image above is the only picture I've been able to find of this particular building –and since it was torn down a long time ago (as with the Bata HQ) using Google Maps Street View for different angles isn't an option. I love the curves, the compact shape, and the art deco details above the front door, etc., but I wish I could see the back side. Of course, I have my imagination...

Estimations and extrapolations.

Assuming a 7 1/2' front door and three-inch-high bricks, I marked up the photo in Photoshop and then did the two drawings shown here. I made painstaking efforts to accurately measure the building through sheer inference (and partly winging it) and I think I got enough good information to build something reasonably resembling the original KGHL station. I made up an "engineering" section in the rear to fill out the shape a bit, even though there might not have been anything beyond what we see in the photo (judging by the proximity of that neighbouring house).

Front elevation.

This is my estimation of the front elevation of KGHL based on my extrapolated measurements from a very skewed photo. It looks to be a symmetrical design, with a matching "window box" clearly visible, so not being able to see much of the opposite side wasn't an issue.

Skewed angle (like the photo!).

I didn't really try to match the original photo's angle, here, but it's pretty close, accidentally. Those notches were left open for me to add flexible cardboard (from cereal boxes) as curves later on. My construction mistake is I didn't need to cut out those right-angled bits on the top sections; I should have made curves like on the front window box sections.

Flaws appear.

I don't know how, but my measurements were way off on those window boxes. My front elevation drawing looks mostly correct, but my boxes are too wide in front and/or too shallow on the sides (and they're a touch too tall). I could live with the longer widths if the sides matched (my preferred proportional choice), otherwise I'd have to severely reduce the size of the boxes and the width of the middle rectangular structure (making the model more accurate, but too tiny...unless I scale it up to 1/48...).

Backside invention.

In reality, there may not have been a structure on the back of the building, but it looked too flat and imbalanced to me, so I invented this back "engineering" area. After all, a radio station needs a place for its technical gear and the window boxes are probably offices and the broadcasting studio/booth is likely in the rectangular section (in reality, so is engineering, but it's my party and I'll cry if I want to).


Note the green highlighter marks on the box structures. To be accurate to the actual building, I'd have to delete everything between those marks (except for the middle part where the front door juts out) –which would make those boxes too tiny...and then my middle section would be too deep.

What I'll do on my next iteration is deepen the window boxes to match the front widths, making them as deep as my invented engineering area in back, which will make the building more square in plan view. Also, I'll make the corners of the back section curved to match the front.

Promising start.

As a study model to refine my measurements and overall massing (and get more practice as a builder), this was a fun project and I had a good time, despite my measurements malfunction. I have a good idea of where I want to go with this now and this front view is very appealing (as long as I ignore the shallow window boxes). I might build the next one at the same scale, but increasing it to 1/48 for better detail (and making it easier to build!) has its appeal.

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