The Real Deal New York

Old-school model maker keeps NYC architects captivated

February 23, 2014 11:00AM

 When the city’s top architects need Lilliputian versions of their next landmark project, they call Richard Tenguerian, a model maker, who for the past three decades has worked with the world’s best regarded architects from his basement studio on Lafayette Street near Astor Place.

Born in Aleppo, Syria, and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Tenguerian is one of the few remaining craftsman of model buildings. He has worked with the likes of Richard Meier, Philip Johnson and Renzo Piano, even building a replica of Bin Laden’s compound for “60 Minutes,” according to the New York Times.

“He is a true artist,” Kenneth Drucker, director of design for the New York office of the architectural firm HOK, who has worked with Mr. Tenguerian for the past 25 years, told the Times. “We have relationships with multiple model shops, but he is my model maker of choice. We have an unspoken language, we have worked together so long, he knows what level of abstraction I need — and he has never missed a deadline for me, ever.”

But despite his workshops whimsical, toy-store feel, his models are far from child’s play. Architectural models often cost upwards of $100,000, and are sometimes essential in convincing relevant authorities to approve developments.

“There is nothing better than a model to really understand how a building looks,” architect Morris Adjmi, who has worked with Mr. Tenguerian, said. “His models have a warmth about them. Even though they use a lot of automated processes, there is this handmade quality that gives them a soul and life.” [NYT]Christopher Cameron