They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, what if you don’t have a picture, and the words you do have just aren’t quite enough to show your clients why you should be the one designing their next building? This is the question all architects face when presenting clients with designs for unbuilt works. Before the introduction of computer aided graphics and visualization, architects relied on pencil and pen renderings to showcase what would some day in the future manifest itself in a building.
Thankfully, for the sake of us all, times have most certainly changed.
These days, you don’t have to look far to find someone capable of producing renderings, animations, and other varieties of 3D visualization that you’d be hard-pressed to tell apart from the real thing. The things professional artists are doing with programs like Rhino, VRAY, Maxwell and the like are simply staggering.
However, for many architecture firms, investing a portion of the design or marketing budget to this flavor of high-end visualization fails to get properly justified. If you already have clients, and are doing enough work to get by on promises, napkin sketches and a decent body of work, the need to sell them on a new and interesting design idea might not register.
I’d argue that even if you don’t think photorealistic renderings can bring something to your office your reputation can’t already provide, you should probably start investing in them anyway.
It’s all about growth, and being able to demonstrate your abilities to a market or clientele that is currently a bit above your pay grade. If you rely solely on your reputation, you run the risk of painting yourself into a professional corner that doesn’t exactly lend itself to vertical mobility. If you want better clients and better projects with bigger budgets and more creative freedom, you have to be able to show proof of your ability to handle something other than what’s hanging in your corner office.
Photorealistic renderings provide a one to one proof of concept, and have the ability to sell your designs even if you don’t have a built up body of work to support that particular project type.
Never designed a library? Enter a competition, design the hell out of it, and create the imagery and experiential renderings necessary to show the jury why you deserve their attention. People have earned massive commissions on far less, and if you have the design chops to do good work, it will show through if properly visualized.
An architect is only as good as their ability to communicate their ideas. For construction itself, that ability manifests itself in a detailed stack of construction drawings and plans that show exactly how that building comes together. For design review, competition, and client progress meetings, that ability comes down to “what does it look like and how much does it cost.” And if you’re savvy and talented enough to provide them with architecture - actual architecture - they might not even care how much it costs.
This is where photorealism truly shines. There is no wiggle room, no fudging or using of your imagination. It is what it is, and can be given a sense of truth in appearance a pencil and markers and vellum never could. Your designs won’t only have a sense of materiality, color, and light, but a human quality of scale that inspires disbelief, opens checkbooks, and most importantly instills trust in your ability to deliver in the end.
And it’s in trust that your business relationships will allow the architecture to be build as initially conceived. Your renderings and photorealistic visualizations will afford you the latitude to follow through with the design intent and construct something worthy of the idea.
Of course, beautiful photorealistic 3D renderings aren’t exactly falling from the sky. It takes the right person or team of people to do this kind of work, which requires its own special blend of talent and education. Luckily, there are plenty of resources that allow architects to keep their own teams small, and outsource their rendering work through job finding services like Easy Render. It’s never been easier to have a capable 3D rendering artist at your disposal, and there’s really no excuse not to get them on board today.
We are reaching a new standard of design communication, and soon enough architects and design firms will be expected to show rather than simply tell. Invest in high-level renderings and visualization, and see your portfolio grow into new and interesting architectural avenues.