Creating a skyscraper from scratch (Part 1)

Or....How the "Godzilla Corporation" built their major downtown office complex!

I've been thinking a lot lately about attempting to build my own skyscraper. Given the relatively sparse offerings (although, not as bad as one would think) for modern N scale skyscrapers, I wondered if it was possible to build my own. I spent a lot of time researching and thinking about various materials, and I think I've found a relatively simple method to create a very cost effective, and hopefully very cool looking, modern skyscraper.

Actually, I have two different skyscraper scratch-building projects going on right now, but I am just talking now about the building that (I think) will become the "Godzilla Corporation" worldwide headquarters.

Materials - Use what you find:

Windows are the hard part. Obviously, I don't have the ability to cast scale window frames, etc... so the key is how to most effectively simulate it? As I started studying 'real' modern skyscrapers, what I notice is that the lack of detail - really just lines where the exterior glass plates come together - should make this kind of project much simpler. Additionally , most modern buildings seem to always use some sort of tinted glass. This can be achieved with automotive tinting film, or (and what I will use in this project) 'smoked' plastic/acrylic sheets.

In fact, I got lucky (which is one nice thing about not having too much of a pre-determined plan!). On a recent visit to the TAP Plastics shop near me (which is a shop which specializes in plastics, typically for signs and so forth) I was looking through their scrap bin and came across 2 pieces of 14 x 3.5 inch 'smoked' acrylic.

I also picked up some of their other 'scraps' which will be good material for testing and for the other skyscraper project I mentioned earlier. The best part? Cheap! $2.50 a pound was the rate, and I think I had a pound of scrap total!

Making Windows Out of Nothing at all:

There were 3 methods I was considering for transforming this boring plastic/acrylic material into something that looked like a skyscraper: Using strips of styrene (or plastic) glued on; Masking and painting, and finally, 'scoring' the plastic with a knife. I did some early tests with scoring and liked what I found! I scored lines across the surface at 16mm intervals, then added another score 4mm after that, and so on.What's cool is that just one score with the xacto knife was all it took to give a pretty good representation of the seams of a modern skyscraper. I fiddled around with rubbing some silver and white paint into the score marks, but found it was unnecessary (at least on this dark, 'smoked' acrylic).

Of course windows, even on modern skyscrapers, are not made of a single plane for each floor, so I needed something to run vertically. I could have added more scoring, but I wanted to try something different. I tested the look of adding some vertical 3mm styrene strips and I was very happy with the look!
Clearly, its a very '1970's' looking skyscraper, but I'll take it! I used some styrene 90 degree corners for the edges which fortunately look good with the vertical strips. I glued the corner styrene pieces (using a hot glue gun) with enough of a gap to fit my side sections (the flat piece to the right in the above photo) but that is for my next post!
On my next post, I'll talk about adding the side walls, ground floor details, office floors and other stuff! Please leave a comment if you find this interesting! Thanks for reading!

CLICK HERE for Part 2!

CLICK HERE for Part 3!

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