Once, Sharon Xie built a house with her hands. It was a Georgian style house on the University of B.C. campus with more than 10,000 square feet of floor space.
She assembled every window frame and laid every shingle. She cut every strip of wood by hand. After two weeks working 14 hours a day, the model house was complete.
“The client was so happy,” said Xie. “I asked him, when you finish building the house, can I buy it back? And he said, ‘No Sharon, I want to put it in my living room. This is a piece of art.’”
Xie runs AB Scale Model in Mount Pleasant with her husband, Ming Yang. Both love the magic of making small, intricate works. Xie grew up doing calligraphy, and Yang grew up making tiny furniture.
They started the business in 1990, not long after Expo 86, the time many consider the moment when Vancouver stepped onto the world stage.
Xie can name all the big developments they modeled since then: the hub at Marine Gateway, the mid-rises on the Cambie Corridor, the Olympic Village, the towers of Mount Pleasant and the entire community popping up at Southeast Marine Drive’s River District.
It’s no surprise that the business of city building in Vancouver is booming. While the key decision makers might be the urban planners, developers, architects and active citizens, the model company offers a small, tangible glimpse at the big dreams that will soon dot Vancouver’s skyline.
Read the full story in the Vancouver Courier here.