Graduate architecture students make 3-D printed building for Miami exhibit ‘Listen to this Building’

Museum visitor interacting with the 3-D printed model building of the Miami Center for Architecture & Design building made by Patricia Elso and Matthew Wasala for the "Listen to this Building Exhibit"

Photo courtesy of Exile Books

Laura Gonzalez // Entertainment Director

The Miami Center of Architecture & Design partnered with the FIU College of Architecture + The Arts’ Patricia Elso and Matthew Wasala, both graduate architecture students, to bring to the community “Listen to this Building,” an exhibition that combines downtown Miami architecture with accessibility to those who have seeing disabilities.

Elso and Wasala created and assembled a 3-D printed model of the MCAD building which was put inside a box with holes so that exhibit goers could feel the building with all of its ridges and intricacies in which everyone could partake in the experience.

“We started this project at the end of the summer semester when Sarah Rose Darling contacted John Stuart, who’s been very active in both of our college careers, and she said, ‘We want to involve the school of architecture somehow’ and he immediately asked us if we wanted to be a part of it,” said Wasala. “John Stuart is always looking out for opportunities for us involving 3-D printing, especially since it’s such a new tool available to architects.”

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, “Listen to this Building” focuses on making the architecture exhibit a very interactive and immersive experience with the use of additional multimedia components such as audio and an interactive braille book.

Elso and Wasala worked for six weeks to make the 3-D model of the MCAD building.

“Because all of the material of the building was so old, we had to go and take pictures of the site,” said Elso. “We had school and work so we were only working on this at night.”

They used the 3-D printing machines set up in the Miami Beach Urban Studios building to print the parts.

“At first, the building was going to be much smaller scaled,” said Elso. “But when we tested it out, we saw that the smaller details of the building got distorted, which wasn’t good because that’s what we wanted people to really feel, so the building ended up being much bigger and heavier.”

Elso and Wasala said that their biggest obstacle when it came to making the building was making sure that everything fit well together and that it maintained its stability.

The exhibit opened on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 6;30 p.m. and will continue throughout the month of September. On Thursday, Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m. the exhibit will take on a more musical turn as the exhibit brings forth the MCAD 3-D model to life using “experimental processes and sounds” according to the “CARTA in Resonance: MBUS, Models, and Music” page. Elso and Wasala will also be talking about the process of making the model and preparing for the exhibition.

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