From Rendering to Reality: Surpassing the Hype
Imagemaking has always been an essential tool for architects. From napkin sketches to watercolors to highly detailed renderings, architectural visualizations convey core ideas as well as specific elements. They help firms win work and enable clients to sell projects to investors, city officials, and the public.
It used to be that clients would request photorealistic renderings near the end of the design process, an eye-catching image for a website or for display in a reception area. However, clients are increasingly requesting these highly detailed images much earlier in the design process. Often before a project is awarded and occasionally even before the contract is signed.
There is, however, an inherent danger in these hyperreal images: the promise of a future that the project may ultimately fail to deliver on. This is not only ethically questionable, it’s not fair to the client or the designer. Always mindful of our clients, at DLR Group such renderings serve not to embellish reality but to guide our process and fulfill the design concept.
Photorealistic renderings and animations set a strong vision and serve as a kind of architectural North Star. At every step along the design process we ask ourselves, “Does this align with the big picture?” Because we have “fallen in love” with the image, it’s only natural to work that much harder to realize its promise. This means designers labor to ensure that the details are true to the greater vision, and clients find ways to preserve their favorite elements, even through the reality of the budgeting process for the project.
A terrific example of this is DLR Group’s Pinnacle Bank Arena, in Lincoln, Neb. The animation our team developed for this multipurpose venue allowed all stakeholders to understand the building in far more informative ways than an elevation or site plan ever could, generating excitement and buy-in. But what’s more thrilling is how completely the vision became a reality, something that surpassed even DLR Group’s goals. And that’s not just our opinion: in 2014 the venue was named Athletic Business’ “Best Arena in College Basketball.”
Architecture that’s better in real life than on a screen? For DLR Group, this is business as usual.