Ann McCallum is a former professor at Williams College who taught the Architecture II course for 24 years. One of her assignments was a special favorite amongst advanced students: to design a building (more specifically, a museum) using the design idiom of a renowned architect and to build a model of it. In a special exhibition on view at the Williams College Museum of Art, nearly 100 models produced over a decade by McCallum’s students are currently on display.
For this assignment, McCallum asked each student to select a renowned architect and to study their chosen architect’s work over the course of a semester. This way students learned specific artistic strategies. As a final project, they designed museum facades in the styles of their selected architects. Ultimately producing the models exhibited at Williams College today.
Though these miniature buildings echo familiar forms and quote signature idioms, they ultimately convey a new built environment—offering an unconventional opportunity within a classical gallery space to contemplate architectural history, pedagogic practice, and artistic individuality.
McCallum likened this project to learning a foreign language, saying that her students had to aquire an architectural “vocabulary” before they were able to craft their own personal syntax. Though they used the work of established practitioners as a conceptual model, the amateur architects featured here produced unique constructed models of their own. Their museums are not copies but interpretations—bridging the gap between emulation and innovation.
We found this train of model museum inspired and enchanting. Enjoy the pictures!
For further reading on Ann McCallum and this incredible exhibit, see http://web.williams.edu/admin/news/releases/161/ or http://wcma.williams.edu/behind-the-scenes/museum-models/.