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Thursday, October 23, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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Steven Maurer captured the brick, awning, signage and even the rust on the sliding tin doors of this nationally registered historic building. Maurer takes photos before each project. (Rita LeBleu / American Press)

Steven Maurer captured the brick, awning, signage and even the rust on the sliding tin doors of this nationally registered historic building. Maurer takes photos before each project. (Rita LeBleu / American Press)

Little details make Maurer a big hit

Last Modified: Monday, April 14, 2014 12:49 PM

By Rita LeBleu / American Press

In the beginning stages of a new development, or even to help visualize a new home, architectural renderings are nice. Floor plans are essential. But when you want to add another dimension to understanding the ins and outs of a large-scale project, nothing puts it into perspective like a Steve Maurer architectural model.

Maurer practices an almost forgotten craft, which he learned during his architectural training. Recently he completed a painstakingly detailed, small-scale version of The Cash and Carry Building at the corner of Broad and Enterprise – right down to the exact pattern of rust on the corrugated tin sliding shutters.

It’s the third project of its kind commissioned by Rick and Donna Richard, local developers and historic preservationists. Maurer also rendered the Calcasieu Marine National Bank and the Phoenix Building, both in downtown Lake Charles, in miniature form.

The Cash and Carry Building received Louisiana’s 2009 award for preservation and the building is on the National Historic Registry. It’s a 9,600-square-foot wholesale grocery warehouse that was built in the 1930s. Today it’s the location for the Lake Area’s Farmer’s Market. According to Rick, it’s also an event venue with unique interior features like clerestory windows, rough wood beams, exposed brick walls and a bar crafted with timbers cut before the Civil War.

Maurer recreated these and other features in his model using the HO railroad scale. HO roughly stands for half of the earlier scale – the O scale – used for toy trains, Maurer explained. In the HO scale one-eight of an inch equals one foot. Ideally, the Richards would like to develop a train track model to use with the buildings. Maurer can use any scale for his craft.

The materials Maurer uses vary and require creativity at times. For instance a jewelry charm was used to top the façade of the Calcasieu Marine Bank model. He dabbed shoe polish on the floor of the Cash and Carry model to give it the coloring and character of the flooring in the 84-year-old structure.

Maurer has used balsa wood, basswood, dollhouse trim and certain papers to shape buildings and architectural details. To create the brickwork for the Phoenix Building, he not only used colored pencils to capture the varied color of the bricks, but also scored the mortar area in between each brick with an X-Acto knife. He even re-created the same brick and flagstone pattern by referring to a series of photographs he takes before he begins. The three models he made for the Richards took about 300 hours each.

Model making isn’t just a forgotten craft. Models are functional in a way computer-generated versions can’t touch. Seeing the flow and the spatial qualities of a structure and the surrounding areas not only helps during the planning stage. It can also help to market properties. Donna Richard said that the Cash and Carry Building model would come in handy at an upcoming wedding products and services trade show.

These models make great displays, are easy-to-carry and for the person who likes to get their hands on something to really understand it, the model can be a pretty big deal. To find out more about Maurer’s work, email him at smallerdimensions@gmail.com.

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