SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Other than their size, there's nothing tiny about Anthony Dyk's buildings.
Dyk, 28, works at TSP Inc. in Sioux Falls, whose architects designed the $25 million Regional Science Center at Northern State University in Aberdeen.
But at night and on weekends, on his personal time, Dyk built a scale model of the huge building by hand. He painstakingly assembled bits of wood, card stock and plastic by hand, building a miniature version of the center from the ground to the roof.
It took 500 hours to complete the building. This is Dyk's off-hours obsession, building intricate scale models of his designs, renewing a craft long-abandoned by modern-day architects, the Argus Leader reported.
"This is six months of work," he said, as he showed off the model. "That's all I really did: work and this."
Dyk's hobby used to be standard practice in his field. Before computers revolutionized the industry, architects built models of their designs by hand, to show clients their work. That work is now all done on a computer, which can easily produce renderings of building designs.
Dyk was in the inaugural class of students in the new architecture program at South Dakota State University in 2010. He learned how to hand-build models, but modeling wasn't a previous interest of his.
"I never built models as a kid, but I built Legos a lot — I still collect Legos," he said.
Dyk joined TSP in January 2017, working toward becoming a licensed architect.
But he thought again of those hand-built models from college. He decided to try his hand at them again. He took the structural drawings of the building, carefully examining them and converting dimensions down to size: say, 4 inches of real-life structure equals 3/32 of an inch in his models.
His materials, basic: thin sheets of wood, card stock, see-through plastic sheets for glass. His tools, basic: sharp knives, rulers and glue.
"The materials are very affordable and easy to come by, it's just the time," he said.
Dyk not only had to build each tiny element of the miniature building by hand, he had to come up with how to do it. There's no instructional manual for how to forge tiny I-beams out of thin strips of card stock and wood slivers thinner than a toothpick.
Dyk said he found himself looking at actual buildings and pondering how he would model them, what he would have to build to make tiny versions of what he saw.
"When I'm not modeling, I'm thinking about how to do it," he said.
Between larger projects in his off hours he's built smaller, more simple models, almost palate cleansers to his bigger buildings, you know - ones that only take 10 to 50 hours of work. No big deal.
TSP doesn't hand-build models for every client. And there's no additional charge when Dyk does craft a design for client. But he does believe the small, physical models provide things computer renderings cannot: the ability to physically turn a model, see at a glance how light will fall, where shadows will form.
"You can understand scale better than you can on renderings," he said. "For me, I want to do the extra effort to help sell these ideas I'm working on."
Dyk continues to build models of other TSP projects. And his models have become treasures of their own, bound for display cases in executives' offices and in the larger version of the buildings they model.
One gifted model was a miniature version of the Froiland Science Complex at Augustana University in Sioux Falls. Dyk's solitary work on the model garnered widespread delight among the faculty and staff who use the building.
"Just to talk to the professors, the teachers that use that space, they say, 'that's my office, that's my lab,'" he said. "Their experience with the model, after being in that building, is really cool."
For more on Anthony Dyk, visit his website.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com