For a course at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, two undergraduates designed an artificial iceberg that is also a floating resort. The cooling system that generates the ice gives off hot air, which is used to create hot springs inside. This proposed iceberg-resort, which accommodates thousands of people, “can grow because it’s in the ocean,” says Andrew Reitz, one of the students. “It’s essentially limitless.”
The imagination of aspiring architects is also limitless, but to realize their visions, they must give their ideas physical form. “The way me and Andrew were able to be more confident in pursuing this project was having a way to build it,” said Leland Jobson, Reitz’s partner on the project. The duo simulated ice using a program called Acropora, then worked in Rhino before producing the vaulted chambers on a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer.
Reitz and Jobson received an A in the studio course and were invited to present the iceberg resort to a panel of invited jurors. Well before their final presentation, however, the MakerBot Replicator in the school’s Digital Futures office helped them to develop the concept. 3D printed study models, they said, help them see their ideas more objectively than on a computer screen, and with this critical distance they can improve their ideas in future models. 3D printing is more efficient than making models by hand, Reitz says, Reitz says, since while the model is printing, “I can refocus and reorganize my attentions.”
Jobson compared their process, which uses about a dollar’s worth of filament each time they print, to working with a ceramic powder printer. “I printed one model and it came out to $80 or $100, and then I didn’t print another model after that, because I just simply could not afford it,” said Jobson, who is a work-study student in the Digital Futures office. Reitz adds, “That’s great for a designer in the 21st century, to not have to necessarily spend thousands of dollars on some final model. You can crank out tons of them on your own MakerBot.”
The two have spent hundreds of hours making 3D prints. “I can’t see myself not having a 3D printer in the future; I think it’s just going to be part of what I do for the rest of my life,” says Reitz.
Yet the process remains magical. “Even though the trick is the same, what comes out of the hat is always different,” says Jobson. “The magic is in what came out of the hat.”