Converting Skyscraper Heights

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#1
Hey,

I finally got some "real" track the other day. A hobby shop had a sale on an Atlas track pack, so no more power-loc!!!:)

But, my next endeavor is custom-building all the skyscrapers, and I was wondering what the best way is to convert all the prototype heights to HO scale heights. Also, according to my estimations, some of the buildings will be over 15 feet tall in HO scale! I only have about 6 ft between the top of my layout and the celing to work with, so what should I do to still be as realistic as possible?:confused:
 

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
#2
1 actual foot is 87 scale feet in HO. A building on your layout 15 actual feet tall comes out to 1305 scale HO feet. That is mighty tall in anybody's book!!!
Since you have just 6 feet to work under the tallest you can do would be 522 scale feet. I would suggest you mock up some various heights and widths with sheets of scrap cardboard to get a perspective on what the possible results might be. Just a flat face would be enough rather than making up a bunch of 4 sided structures.
 
#3
I would suggest you mock up some various heights and widths with sheets of scrap cardboard to get a perspective on what the possible results might be. Just a flat face would be enough rather than making up a bunch of 4 sided structures.
I don't know, Mike. Structures this large have a considerable bulk to them, so a 2-D mock up really isn't going to give you much of an idea of just how much space each structure will take up. Better to do 3-D representaions, unless the structure is intended as a background "flat".

I'd also point out to airport1246 that buildings of the size he is planning will totally overwhelm the trains and remaining parts of the layout. I recall that George Sellios had some very large buildings on his early F&SM (but still considerably smaller than proposed here) and they looked very much out of character and not overly believable, in my opinion.

NYW&B
 

Gary B

The Fox Valley Railroad
#4
Well Mister Airport, your problem is that you are trying to model my home town , Chicago. That's just an impossible task. I know I've toyed with the idea for 45 years. Not only are the buildings tall, they take up a lot of real estate. One good building is as large as most people's layouts. Even the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry model railroad scales the Chicago skyline to about 60 % HO scale. The I found is more to suggest the city. I have a skyline that I think looks OK but is no where near being full sized. Good luck with your project please post pictures!
 

UP2CSX

Fleeing from Al
#5
As you can see from Gary's pictures, even a 15 story building looks huge on an HO scale layout. It's quite possible to stay within that limit and still have the look of a big city. The main thing is to have many buildings of different heights crowded together, to reproduce the congested look of a downtown area. If you really want to make it look like Chicago, pick out a few signature buildings, like the Sears Tower, and scale it down so it stays with that 15-20 story range.
 
#6
Thanks guys!

I'll play around with various smaller heights until I get something I'm satisfied with. Luckily, buildings like the Willis Tower (Sears Tower) are far enough away from the area i'm trying to model, that they will end up in the background, not as an actual model.
 

Larry

Long Winded Old Fart
#7
I have 18 skyscrapers on my layout & the tallest one is about 371/2 ft. They are all on the back wall w/some smaller skyscrapers in front. They don't take up a lot of space
(8"deep). Although mine are mostly modern, the one's in the front are not.
If you go onto my Photobucket acct. at the bottom of my signature you will see all of them.
 

Gary B

The Fox Valley Railroad
#8
Remember too that the farther away a tower is, the shorter it appears to the foreground. By representing the Sears a few miles away it can be relatively small on a back drop. Heck, I'm about ten miles from it now and could see it on clear day from my roof, but normally the trees near me look bigger. Sears/Willis would actually be a good choice to include, it is very visible and even if made smaller, the shape is easy to identify.
 

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
#9
I don't know, Mike. Structures this large have a considerable bulk to them, so a 2-D mock up really isn't going to give you much of an idea of just how much space each structure will take up. Better to do 3-D representaions, unless the structure is intended as a background "flat".

I'd also point out to airport1246 that buildings of the size he is planning will totally overwhelm the trains and remaining parts of the layout. I recall that George Sellios had some very large buildings on his early F&SM (but still considerably smaller than proposed here) and they looked very much out of character and not overly believable, in my opinion.

NYW&B
I agree that a flat won't relate the overall bulk and footprint. My thoughts were to use the flats to see just how tall something would end up and in his case I think wayyyyy too tall. By necessity we modellers use selective compression to squeeze things into a given space and still give the right impression we are seeking. This definitely applies to height as well. It is pretty rare to find buildings much over 6 or 8 stories tall on any scale layout for the reasons you point out.
 
#10
You can also try what the architects of Disney Land did - the first floor is slightly smaller than scale (I think 4/5th), and the upper floors were 3/5th or smaller, a lot of times there were fewer floors as well... the key is to keep the overall building height-width ratio to the same as the prototype. I've seen paintings and tourist shop replicas of NYC skyscrapers that are quite convincing even though only 20 or so floors are portrayed (the real buildings have 70-100).
 
#11
This is probably more of something you would have to size up on the spot where the city is going to be on the layout and experiment with sizes and shapes to see what looks best in person. Not according to the actual scale size of the buildings themselves. But instead, using building mock ups.
 





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