The Safdie Architects Model Shop

Since the founding of the office in 1964, an integrated team of expert model-makers has been essential to the collaborative exploration of design. While the technical tools may have changed, the fundamental role of the physical model, to explore ideas in three-dimensional form, has endured.   

The Safdie Model Shop uses every medium and tool, from Lego, clay, paper, foam and wood, to custom 3D printed and thermo-vacuum formed plastics and polymers. At the earliest stages of the design process, models are built to test scale, volumetric massing, materiality and site constraints.  During the Construction Documentation stage, models and mock-ups test details at full scale. 

The powerful new digital tools used throughout the design process has not lessened the dependency on physical models, rather these act to complement the model studies.  Models take a central role to the design discussion and are part of every project meeting with our clients.




John Hill, correspondent for World-Architects, reviews how models not only convey the formal complexity of our buildings, but also their sensitivity to site and context. Download the report he filed below.

Published in Practice on September 20, 2017