Richard Tenguerian’s handcrafted architectural models continue to rise above

Richard Tenguerian’s handcrafted architectural models continue to rise above –

In an age of digital renderings, Richard Tenguerian’s handcrafted architectural models continue to rise above

Architectural Digest – Scattered about the Manhattan studio of Tenguerian Models is a small city’s worth of miniature office towers, stadiums, and cultural centers—relics from countless collaborations with architects, including such luminaries as Philip Johnson and Richard Meier. For the past 26 years the firm’s founder, Richard Tenguerian, has been the go-to modelmaker for designers looking to bring sometimes-revolution­ary building ideas to vivid, three-dimensional life. The secret to Tenguerian’s success? “I can read architects’ minds,” he quips, only half-joking.

Trained as an architect himself at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, Tenguerian has a keen structural sense born out of a lifelong obsession with buildings that started in his youth, growing up in Beirut. That obsessiveness comes through in the engaging models Tenguerian and his dozen or so technicians craft each year, using materials such as Plexiglas, computer-milled wood, and 3-D–printed plastic. Many of their creations—like the 30-inch-tall model of 2014 Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban’s Cast Iron House, a residential conversion in Tribeca—feature removable walls and working lights. Tenguerian sees himself as his clients’ best advocate, as his meticulous renderings help them make their case to developers, preservation committees, and potential buyers.

Among his recent commissions are models for two of New York’s highest-profile, and most closely scrutinized, developments: Hudson Yards and One Vanderbilt, both master-planned by the firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF). For Hudson Yards, the giant mixed-use complex on the city’s far west side, Tenguerian’s team has been enlisted to replicate every component of the intricate scheme. Earlier this year KPF came back again, asking for a new rendering of one of the buildings’ lobbies. The turnaround was a mere three days. “It’s always when I’ve planned a vacation,” says Tenguerian, laughing.

Yet to be approved, One Vanderbilt is a supertower that would rise next to Grand Central Terminal. If it’s green-lighted, Tenguerian may be to thank. “With daring design, people will insist, ‘This isn’t buildable,’” Tenguerian says. “But what we do is very convincing.”


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