Member Profile: Alika Brooks

submitted by Audrey Farrell

 

 

 Alika Brooks, Meadors, Inc.                                                                         

  

Member Profile: Meet Alika Brooks

Alika Brooks has been a model maker for 10 years and currently works in the design services department of Meadors, Inc. in Charleston, South Carolina. His first job in model making began as an internship with Todd Britton in the Fentress Architects model shop located in Denver, Colorado. Alika's career to date has been primarily at Fentress Architects practicing architectural model making and the many odd jobs that are in support of the architectural process, such as gathering contextual information on site and fabricating full scale mock-ups. 

 

Alika also spent some time volunteering with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science re-packaging a large collection of bird eggs and nests, building exhibits, and crafting mounts for various prehistoric fossils. 

 

Four years ago, Alika and his wife moved to Charleston, South Carolina where he joined the design services department of Meadors, a primarily residential design build company. Alika says, “I work with Michael Nixon, who also previously worked with Todd Britton at Fentress Architects, however we were there at separate times and had never previously met.  At Meadors, I still practice architectural model making, but spend most of my time applying the skills I have learned to all facets of the design and production/construction process.  I would best describe my job as interpreting design intent and developing the process, tooling, methods, and documentation for the production of custom furnishings, millwork, and components for homes.”

 

Alika attended the Art Institute of Colorado, studying Industrial Design. When asked how he learned of model making as a profession, he replied, “I was always aware that model making was a thing but always thought it was just a part of a larger job, such as architectural models just being something architects did in addition to all the other tasks an architect does.  I only learned that model making is and could be an entire profession itself when I began school for industrial design.”

 

We asked Alika the question - what is the most interesting model you’ve built? He replied, “The most interesting model I’ve ever built was the first model I ever built and it is still the largest, most detailed, and most complex model I have ever been a part of.  It is a master site plan of the entire Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  It was in the neighborhood of 6’ x 18’, came apart into 5 pieces for transport, was fully lit with computer controlled LEDs, EL Strips, and fiber optics, and had a mind numbing amount of 1:1200 scale cars in the parking lots and roadways, all placed in the exact spots where real cars were in the most recent google maps image at the time. Same for the airplanes and jet ways too.  As my first model while completing an internship, which continued as a part time, then full time job, it was really a huge dive into the deep end for me.  Fortunately at the time there was a really amazing crew at the Fentress model shop led by Todd Britton. That project showed me that I was capable of so much more than I thought I was and it set the precedent for my entire career since.  It is still on display at the airport as far as I know. It is in the lobby of the old control tower which is now an administration building.  Go check it out if you ever have a long layover there.”

 

 

View to the west
 
 

Entrance view of LAX Airport
 

Alika believes his area of expertise is “problem solving.” He says, “All roads of model making always start and end with problem solving. Whether it be material sourcing, information processing, process development, equipment maintenance, fabrication, transportation, painting and finishing, photography, documentation, communication, you name it, there will always be a problem that you will be challenged with solving. I believe it is the single most important skill someone can have in this or any career, and it is the part of my job that I enjoy most.”

 

Colorado Judicial Center
 
 

When asked what he might have done if he didn’t get into model making, Alika said, “Before I started at the Art Institute I was in business school at the University of Colorado, Boulder and was really struggling with it. I was on the verge of moving back to Hawaii where I grew up so who knows, a fire walking hula dancer maybe!”

 

Alika had been a member of the APMM for a few years about 8 years ago and most recently rejoined a year ago. He says the best thing about the APMM is the MILE email list. “The MILE provides great access to such talented individuals with a wealth of knowledge and information.”

 

His advice for someone just entering the field of model making is, “…to just ask, whether it is questions, for a job, or for help. I have found the model making community to be so open and genuinely excited to help each other out that if you simply ask, you will probably get more than you bargained for. And don’t be afraid to fail.”

 

Alika’s plans for the near future? “To get better at what I do, then repeat.”

 

 

Colorado Judicial Center atrium with LED-lit floors
 
 

Interior of a military museum

 

Alika Brooks
 
 
 
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