Sharon Xie of AB Scale Models sat down with us recently for an interview, we discussed their time in the industry, the trends, her husband and owner of AB Scale Models Ming Yang and the lengths he took to create the perfect model for Gold House.
When did you start the business?
In the 80s, it’s been 25 years. We’re celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary as well. Next spring time, we’re publishing a book – 1:25, where we talk about the history.
How has the landscape changed during the time you’ve been in business?
We’ve seen a lot through the 25 years we’ve been here – Vancouver before – 1989 – and now through so many changes, many people are moving here because of the weather, the environment and a chance to pursue their dreams.
You have a very diverse team.
Our employees are all from different countries – mostly China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Iran, Philippines, Turkey, India and of course local – it’s our big family and you represents the diversity you find here in Vancouver. We are proud of being very diverse.
It’s good that we work so well together, sometimes we have very tight deadlines and we call everyone in, no matter where they are.
What trends have you been seeing in the past couple of years?
As Vancouver grows, our company grows. And we can tell Vancouver is growing very quickly. For example in the 90s, we were working for the Yaletown projects – that time there were only a few towers in Yaletown – 2 or 3 towers, they were slowly growing along the False Creek side. Nowadays, there are so many towers – you can see just from the Cambie Bridge. I’m very proud of all the downtown Vancouver projects, AB Scale has done 95% – I cannot say 99% but 95% we’ve done.
Even on the Cambie corridor – there are so many buildings coming up. But after that, we can tell what’s next – Burnaby – Metrotown – Richmond – South East Marine Drive there are a lot of projects going on.
You’ve seen a lot of buildings sprout up, especially recently then?
Not only just buildings but great design too. When we talk to architects, we say that they are so fortunate – they can try so many different designs features within the same city. In Vancouver there is always something going up with a different design. Rize is always pushing the design of their buildings – they are very busy and keep us busy too.
Tell us a little about Gold House.
For Gold House, Rize used a very talented architect (Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc.) and Interior Desinger (Hirsch Bedner Associates). The design of Gold House is very unique and features architecture that isn’t like anything many people have seen before. For example, the lobby is so grand; I’ve never seen any project in that area like it. Very high ceilings, very grand, and the colour and the material used are gold inspired and luxurious.
You had to make the gold colour on the model in house because Ming couldn’t find the perfect gold for the model.
The gold colour on the scale model is a colour we had to create here in the studio because you cannot buy that exact gold colour. You have to make something to show the character of the architecture. Anyone can make models and make just a generic ‘gold colour’ – but we want to make it exactly the same colour as we were given by Rize. It is something you’ll have to be creative about and only experience can reflect that – the experience that Ming has.
Ming has a lot of experience and he can tell right away the colour, the detail, the texture – you can’t learn that from school – it’s all from experience. Ming has been making models for 40 years. We like the challenge, and we do our best and our clients they love it.
Walk us through the first steps of when you receive the plans.
Every project starts in the computer room with our team – the plans sent by the architect are reorganized here. Some files we don’t need, some are good reference, and we will draw our own. We have one designer working on the main structure and we have others who help with details like the balcony, railings.
Floor plans typically take 3-4 days, the facade and elevation take 2-4 weeks, but it really depends.
We have to pay attention to all the small things – for example: the land in Vancouver is not flat – different slopes and grading, so we put together a model base site plan.
From the plans we’ve seen we get a sense of the architect’s style. With Chris Dikeakos, the plans are very phenomenal as they are very talented architects. Gold House will be a landmark building in the Burnaby area.