I was surprised to read a story in Wired magazine that touted the importance of physical city models to scale. Although I’m still fascinated by the craftmanship that goes into their creation, and have reported on them frequently, I also think they’re a colossal waste of money and time in this digital era. The hand-built model of Manhattan is a beauty to behold, but a better and less expensive job could have been done using a digital model and a 3D printer, and in much less time. And Wired is a technology publication that I would think would be touting all things digital.
There’s an excellent video from this story here of the Bay Model, a replica of the San Franciso Bay that helped save a public works disaster that would have dammed the bay in the late 1950′s. There’s also mention of the Shanghai urban model. I’m surprised that there wasn’t any mention of Boston’s large-scale balsa model at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.