Hord Coplan Macht: A Model Lab - MakerBot Case Study
Posted on July 11 2017
Hord Coplan Macht is a 120-person firm that offers architecture, landscape architecture, planning, and interior design. Founded in 1977, Hord Coplan Macht is the largest architecture firm in Baltimore, MD, and also has an office in Alexandria, VA. Hord Coplan Macht takes a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to problem solving and strives for design excellence with environmental sensitivity. Its broad architectural practice includes education, multifamily residential, and healthcare.
Hord Coplan Macht designs spaces for corporations, governments, universities, hospitals, and other clients. To collaborate with each client and deliver what it needs, the architects must present their vision in a way that’s vivid and easily understood by the people who will live or work there. Over the years, architects have used a variety of tools to communicate their ideas: manual and digital sketches, computer renderings and animations, and physical models made from wood, clay, and foam.
Hord Coplan Macht is designing a new, 20,000-square-foot pathology lab for Mercy Medical Center, a Baltimore institution since 1874. In presenting its design development for the first phase, Hord Coplan Macht used two slide presentations, one with the proposed floor plan for the pathology lab and the other showing a 3D digital rendering of a walkthrough of the space. Architects develop an ability to picture 3D spaces from floor plans and digital renderings, but most hospital employees don’t. Mercy’s lab technicians could not understand the proposed workflows. “It was problematic to walk them through the design quickly and precisely,” says Richard S. Abbott, a principal in the Hord Coplan Macht Healthcare Studio. Creating a detailed model of the lab by hand would take too much time and effort. So project designer Seth Rothman asked, “Can it be done on a 3D printer?”
The Hord Coplan Macht Healthcare Studio made a 24 x 18–inch model using its MakerBot® Replicator® 2 Desktop 3D Printer, bought in November 2013. The team exported files from their usual design software, Autodesk Revit, to MakerBot MakerWare®, which prepared the files for printing. They printed casework and equipment in different colors of PLA filament, so each pathology department could easily study its section of the lab, and they mounted the quarter-inch scale model on base plates of laser-cut white acrylic. The project took two weeks to complete, and the architects could focus on other tasks while each piece was printing. The MakerBot Replicator 2 offers Hord Coplan Macht an efficient way to make a presentation model. Before getting a MakerBot Replicator, says Abbott, “we would never have gone to a model version.” A vendor would have taken months and charged $15,000 — too much to ask of a client.
Even before the presentation, Abbott says, “we could start identifying pinch points that we couldn’t see in the floor plan or 3D images.” Healthcare Studio architect Wendy Legerton says, “The model was immensely helpful for us, and even more for the hospital employees, who are not used to translating lines on a page into three-dimensional space. They sent us a thank-you note after the meeting, which doesn’t happen every day.”
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