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7 Ways Architects Can Use 3D Rendering

Architects must learn to draw. Here are 7 ways they can use 3D rendering and visualization to the benefit of their practice.

Architects are drawers. It’s drilled into their maleable brains the first day they step into design school, and probably something they’ve already been doing since their tiny fingers were capable of holding a number 2 pencil. They have to be - it’s their conduit to the rest of the world. An architect draws so they can communicate their ideas to themselves, their colleagues, and the world.

About 20 years ago, computer technology advanced enough to give architects the ability to draw digitally in three dimensions - an event that brought forth a revolution that changed the way buildings were designed and communicated. Design and promotional drawings no longer had to be produced pen mark by pen mark, but with the sweeping arm of rendering algorithms and computing power.

We’ve come a long way in 20 years, and architects have found more ways than ever to use rendering to craft better buildings and sell their ideas more easily. Here are 7 ways architects can use 3D rendering.

1 | Client Meetings

If you wowed them with that napkin sketch the first time you ever met, imagine what you can do with a photorealistic rendering of their future home. Rendering gives architects the power to establish trust with their clients. You can’t sell a design idea without visual proof to back it up, which is what visualization is at its core.

Never show up to a client meeting without scaled drawings. And never show up without something to make their jaw drop.

2 | Getting New Work

Having great built work will naturally get you bigger, better, and higher-paying jobs. However, it helps to have a body of conceptual or ‘on the boards’ work that shows people you have a fresh, active practice that is proud to show off its work before the shovel hits the dirt.

3D rendering can help build out blind spots on your online portfolio and offer perspective clients something to dream up as their are imagining how their next project will take shape.

3 | Reinforcing the Feedback Loop

An architecture practice is nothing without the rigor and discipline displayed in their process. Ideas must be worked within a finely tuned machine to come out the other side as a polished, well-executed built work.

Inserting certain milestones throughout that process to make room for 3D renderings and visualizations will provide designers with the most accurate design information possible. This will allow them to make confident decisions about the design, and move forward knowing they are heading in the right direction.

4 | Communicating with Builders

There isn’t always a clear line of reliable correspondence between architects and builders. It’s a shame, too, as the status of that relationship is often the difference between a bad project and a great one.

3D visualization can create a form of visual communication that goes beyond your typical 2D line drawings. It allows the builder to get inside the designer’s head and see how the end result was planned to look, and let them build to a more accurate specification.

5 | Improving the Office

An architect’s office is often the first opportunity for them to make an impactful impression on a prospective client or employee. It’s a chance to show what they can do, both in the space itself and the images and models that populate the walls and shelves.

Renderings act to establish that office space as one where great ideas happen. You don’t need to go overboard, but showcasing a few select in-process projects (along with pictures of built ones) will get the relationship with whoever is viewing it off on the right foot.

6 | Practice

Yes, design drawings make for better designers. The simple act of drawing something - sometimes over and over again - will not only make what you are drawing better, it will give you the practice that is required to be a truly great architect. Sometimes it’s important to outsource visualization work, but there is great opportunity to learn and get better if architects perform those tasks themselves.

7 | Attracting Better Employees

An architect is only as good as the people they hire to manage project, craft construction drawings, and properly execute the initial ideas. One of the best way to attract the best employees is to do good work. To do good work, 3D rendering and visualization must be a key cog in the design machine.

More than that, renderings will showcase your work in a way that colleagues can respect and appreciate. Render well, and you’ll be up to your neck in portfolios to sift through.

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