The Model Maker
The Model Maker
Those who work at the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences know Micah Sieber as its director of academic programs. Many also know him as the guy who makes tiny and exquisite handcrafted wooden models of the Center for Computing & Data Sciences, a building whose distinctive cantilevered sections have been compared to an askew stack of books or to Jenga blocks.
Like many members of the BU community, Sieber was immediately fascinated by the building’s striking design when he joined the CDS staff in 2022. (He’d previously been academic director at BU’s School of Hospitality Administration.)
“Working in higher ed, I never thought I would be in a sleek, modern, and unique building like CDS,” he says.
A dedicated amateur woodworker, Sieber was so taken by the building’s elegant design that he set about constructing tiny models of the building, using the original architectural blueprints for guidance and blocks of high-end wood sourced from local woodworking stores and an exotic wood supplier in Michigan. He began teaching himself the craft a decade ago, watching YouTube instructional videos. Eventually, he set up a studio in his garage in Norwood, Mass., and outfitted it with professional woodworking tools.
“I started out like a lot of woodworkers do, making things like coffee tables and cutting boards,” he says. “I also make a lot of pens and pen holders and things like that.”
The scale model project was a way to flex his talents—while also picking up some novel skills along the way.
“The biggest challenge was definitely figuring it out from the blueprints,” he says. “I’m not an architect; it’s my first time really ever looking at blueprints, and I actually misread [them] initially.”
Eventually, Sieber was able to convert the building’s dimensions into a formula that allowed him to create models that he says were “a close approximation to about a 1 to 1,000 scale representation.”
After cutting a block of wood to the appropriate dimensions, Sieber uses a table saw to notch away portions of the block to replicate the building’s singular cantilevered sections. The best part of smaller projects like these scale models, he says, is the chance it affords him to use a variety of quality exotic woods that would normally be too expensive or unwieldy for use in his larger projects.
Another bonus: these small models—which range in size, but average six inches—are perfect to hand out as gifts for displaying on a shelf or desk. Sieber now regularly delights his CDS coworkers by presenting them with their very own miniature replicas.
“I wanted something I could give out as a uniquely CDS thank-you to all the people that have helped us out as we’ve been building and establishing ourselves over the last few years,” he says. “It’s very satisfying to be able to give these out as gifts.”