To say that Timothy Richards builds models for a living seems unfair. It’s like saying an emergency room doctor is “good with people.” Kind of depreciates things, right?
“The easiest way to describe my work in terms of material and design is to say I’m a sculptor,” Richards told AHAlife. “That’s probably the term most familiar to the way I work.”
Sure, but artist, architect, history buff, former teacher, life-long student, risk-taker and dreamer are equally as appropriate to describe Richards, a Bath, England native who, after world travels, still calls Bath home. He spends most of his time these days in a 3,500 sq. ft. Victorian school built in 1860, which now houses his work studio.
“I’ve come to realize the place where you come from can be a pivotal influence in the way your life turns out. Bath is a gift to the world and is actively trying to save buildings and architecture.”
We couldn’t imagine a more perfect home base for Richards, who has spent decades mastering the 19th-century art of plaster craftsmanship to create stunning true-to-life-and-scale architectural models of some of the most famous buildings in the world.
Like one of Project Runway icon and AHAcurator Tim Gunn’s favorite—a replica of the Radcliffe Camera, the first circular library in Oxford, England (for the record, Gunn owns six of Richards’ models). Among Richards’ countless other models is the Ca’ d’Oro in Venice, The Lincoln Memorial, and two-piece creations of Ellis Island and the Mozart Opera House in Prague, which function as bookends (genius!). His work is sprinkled across the globe in the homes of private collectors, in the exhibit halls of the National Building Museum, was just showcased at New York's Morgan Library & Museum, and will soon appear at the Embassy in Washington—they’ve requested two models for the foyer.
“My craft is not just the production of models, but the production of an object that has immediate recognition for the viewer, and it is also tied to what these buildings have become.”
Richards’ complex process involves planning, sketches and site visits, followed by the hand-construction of all parts of the models, using various materials like resin, wood and car body filler. Eventually an entire prototype will go under silicon rubber to produce the mold and the final piece is cast in Gypsum plaster.
The process can take anywhere from two to nine months for completion depending on the scale of the project, but is surely worth the wait.
After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know…
from Bath, United Kingdom