Tag Archives: architectural visualization

International Builders Show Spotlight

 

VEGAS, BABY!  THE 2014 INTERNATIONAL BUILDERS SHOW

Builders-Show-signThis year’s International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas wrapped up last week. Primarily targeting building industry professionals, IBS 2014 was co-located for the first time this year with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), offering a combined 1,700 exhibitors for an eye-popping, idea-expanding experience for more than 75,000 attendees from across the globe. The International Window Coverings Expo was also located on another floor of the same conference center.

Here’s why you care: with its hot trends, new products, and futuristic concepts, the IBS can give you fantastic insight and inspiration for your next project. This is true whether you’re a building industry professional (designers, architects, builders, 3D renderers, K&B professionals, etc.) or a regular person dreaming about what your current home space can accomplish… or how your next dream shelter will look and function.

Concepts Made Real

The New American Home is a concept home built especially for the show in a Las Vegas development. Reminiscent of the contemporary elevations so beautifully crafted in Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie home architectural style, the New American Home delivers a modern interpretation of the classic ranch, set in a contemporary style home with stunning desert view. Sleek lines softened with natural materials and a layout that seamlessly blends the indoors and out, this home boasts functionality and design meant for today’s multigenerational family and forward-thinking lifestyle.

New-American-Home-International-Builders-Show-2014

The New American Home 2014

What’s exceptionally buzz-worthy about the home is its commitment to sustainability, universal design (an elegant term for aging in place), and contemporary styling. Take a virtual tour by clicking here.

Hot New Trends & Products

International-Builders-Show-exhibitor-floorWhere to begin? With 1,700 exhibitors and numerous educational sessions, new trends and products were evident everywhere. Businesses of all sorts love to do mashups of their favorites so I thought I’d share a few with you:

  • Let’s start with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) — the host of the show — and their “best of” winners. Categories include the best products in home technology, kitchen and bath, indoor living, outdoor living, window & door, most innovative building, and their coveted “Best in Show.” Get details, winners, and manufacturer links by clicking here.
  • A sustainable product roundup from Green Building & Design Magazine gets excited over products ranging from reflective shingles to zero volatile organic compound (VOC) paint.
  • Here’s what impressed the LA Times.
  • A video from the Wall Street Journal highlights ribbon fireplaces, cabinets made of lighter colored metals, and an all-in-one range with seven (yes, seven!) components including a steam oven, convection oven, and warming drawer.

Products weren’t the only thing trending. There were dozens of educational sessions each day that ranged from feeding designers’ and homeowners’ dreams to down-to-earth practical advice for builders and contractors. Some of the sessions on my show planner included:

  • “Evoking Buyers’ Emotions through Home Design”
  • “Love Living in Your Kitchen”
  • “Design Trends for 2014 & Beyond”
  • “Survey Says: Home Trends & Buyer Preferences” (valuable information to keep home improvement investments in step with what’s marketable).
  • “High Performance by Design: 12 Design Tips to Transform Any House Plan”

Creating the Future

Dreamers, builders, designers, and imaginations of all shapes and sizes are welcome at the IBS. Sometimes, it’s neither practical nor possible to build a tangible, real-life, three-dimensional prototype of a product or design idea. This is where 3D renderings take center stage.  If you feed someone like myself the concept, I can create a true-to-life image so your concept comes to life.

I was especially looking forward to visiting one particular exhibit at IBS because one of my 3D renderings was being used as the booth backdrop. Well-known lighting experts Kichler Lighting wanted to show off the emotion, beauty, and ambiance their lighting fixtures and products could create in a home. But how could they demonstrate a house full of lighting style in an exhibit floor booth? Kichler’s solution was to have me create a detailed rendering of a home, cutaway to reveal the interior, showcasing Kichler Lighting both inside and out. They used the image, blown up to 8’ x 8’, as the backdrop for their booth. It was designed to capture attention and instantly help other design professionals visualize Kichler products in their own creative inspirations.

Kichler-cutaway-house_med-web

Cutaway house — custom rendering created by CastleView 3D for Kichler Lighting Co.

Over the years, I’ve helped many other professionals and companies convey their ideas and products for commercial purposes using 3D renderings, including this concept created for a Seattle builder for a home show last year. The result is an innovative, eye-catching, and effective way to capture the attention of the businesses’ prospective customers.  As for the IBS, it was certainly exciting to know that this technology is being embraced as a way to visualize and create the future of tomorrow’s design.

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So, has this information about IBS helped whet your appetite for the show? Are we on for IBS 2015? Next year’s show will be in Las Vegas from January 20–22, 2015, and will once again be partnered with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. Show registration opens September 2, 2014. Let’s go to Vegas, baby!

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[NOTE:  Today’s post was intended to be a review of my visit to the 2014 International Builders Show in Las Vegas.   Unfortunately, my trip was cancelled at the last minute due to weather-related difficulties.  This would have been my first visit to the IBS, so of course I’m disappointed that it didn’t happen.  So instead I decided to highlight all the things I was looking forward to.  And now maybe you, like me, can start planning to attend next year’s show.]


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3D renderings from an architect?

IS IT REASONABLE TO EXPECT AN ARCHITECT TO PROVIDE COMPUTER RENDERINGS OF REMODEL IDEAS?

confused-image

Recently, I received an inquiry from a reader asking whether it was reasonable to expect architects to provide computer renderings of remodel ideas. My short answer is… yes and no.

Let’s walk through this important question from the perspectives of everyone involved.

The Client

When you’re the client, you are handing over large quantities of your money and time to an individual to perform a professional service for you: design a living space that fits your budget, your lifestyle, and your tastes. Let’s stop for a moment. Notice how the word “you” or “your” was used seven times in the preceding sentence. That’s because YOU are the single most important individual in this project. You are the paying customer.

A reputable architect will pride him or herself on meeting your needs. In order to best understand your vision, a good architect appreciates as much client input as possible. The more precise you can be in describing your lifestyle, tastes, and budget, the better an architect can design a space that meets your needs.

Once your architect develops a design for you, it’s up to them to make sure you thoroughly understand that vision. If you don’t, you must say so. Not everyone has spatial visualization skills and the ability to see a vision from a blueprint or CAD drawing. If a 3D rendering will help you better understand exactly what you can expect for your enormous investment, then it is absolutely reasonable to expect an architect to help you secure a 3D computer rendering of the remodel ideas.  If they don’t provide this service themselves, they should at least be able to point you to someone who can provide it.

It is also reasonable to expect architects to work with 3D renderings that you obtain from a third party if they do not provide the rendering as a part of their own service.

The Architect

To make sure I clearly understood the architects’ perspective on this issue, I asked for opinions in an architecture-related group on LinkedIn that I’m a member of. Answers were fairly polarized, and seemed to depend on whether the architect was using a 3D type of software like Chief Architect to create their plans versus using more traditional 2D CAD or hand-drawn plans.

One architect said, “With software that works in 3D, the 3D views are not a large cost to me. I am able to create most 3D visuals with the click of a button. These are not idealized renderings. They are enough to get the ideas across when 2D can’t. I can and do raise my base fee. I market this as my advanced approach to doing business. And since it is included, I am not as quickly seen by clients as ‘nickel and diming’ them for every little thing (their words, not mine).”

Another designer commented, “I include 3D renderings in all my plans. I don’t see why you can’t. It tells the whole story of the project and basically it is already there for the most part. So why not include them!? As far as prints [blueprints and line elevations], I usually give 2-3 sets with my price and more at their expense.”

Others were open-minded about working with 3D renderings but didn’t feel any responsibility to provide them. This is an honest and fair position, as it is not yet standard practice for architects to use software that creates 3D renderings, so to provide them for clients means an additional cost in time, money, and scope for the architect. The legal interpretation of today’s reasonable ‘Standard of Care’ for architects does not require the use of 3D.

However, 3D technology will continue to have an effect on the architectural industry’s definition of a reasonable ‘standard of care’ for architects when working with clients. As more clients request 3D renderings and gravitate to those architects who do provide them, I believe that there will eventually be a paradigm shift in standard accepted practices. Remember, at one point blueprints and CAD drawings were not considered standard practice, but today all architects factor these into their general rates.  However, it is probably NOT reasonable at this point to expect to receive 3D renderings at no additional cost, since the architect or designer incurs extra costs for creating them.

The 3D Renderer

3D renderings are excellent tools for communicating ideas, as well as a smart project cost containment strategy for both clients and architects. Until the accepted paradigm makes providing 3D renderings a standard architectural practice, clients will often need to take the initiative to ask for them. If you don’t see it spelled out in your contract, the safest bet is to assume it is NOT part of the package the architect is offering.

But if your architect doesn’t do 3D, that doesn’t mean you need to go without renderings! Ask your architect if he or she would consider contracting these out, or ask for recommendations so you can find and work directly with a specialized 3D rendering service provider yourself.  A good 3D renderer should be able to create a 3D model and high-quality renderings from the standard plans or blueprints prepared by any architect.

If the price your architect quotes you for providing 3D renderings seems prohibitively high, even for such a valuable service, you are certainly free to shop around for a better price.  Just remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for.”  As with so many things, the cheapest price isn’t usually the best choice.

blindfold-guyIn my experience, many clients swear that their investment in obtaining 3D renderings is the best money they spent on the whole project, in terms of time and money saved and headaches averted. I’ve never heard anyone say,

“3D renderings? Oh, no thanks—I prefer to be completely surprised when I’m spending thousands of dollars!”

IN SUMMARY

Remember, a good architect will want to create a positive experience with you. Don’t hesitate to ask about 3D renderings. Your architect will appreciate you being up front with your concerns so that he or she can address them before you move too deeply into a project. This clear communication is a recipe for peace-of-mind and a successful outcome for everyone.


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Another inspiration (#7)

INSPIRING RENDERINGS BY MUHAMMED TAHER

Here’s another entry from my “Inspirations” file.  Every so often, I see examples of amazing 3D renderings that I want to share because I find them so inspirational for my own rendering work.

I first saw today’s inspirational renderings on CGArchitect.com (an inspiring site in itself). What can I say about this rendering by Muhammad Taher, a freelance architect and architectural visualization artist in Alexandria, Egypt, except that it’s stunning and a true inspiration? There are so many things in this image to study and learn from — models, lighting, texturing, staging of the scene, camera settings and placement, and more.  For me, the only element in this rendering that doesn’t work quite as well as the rest is the bouquet of flowers.  Roses? A middle Eastern flower I’m unfamiliar with?  I’m not sure. But it definitely doesn’t spoil the overall effect.

"Master Bedroom" _renderings by Muhammad Taher

Inspirational “Master Bedroom” rendering by Muhammad Taher

Muhammed also does excellent exterior renderings, but I’m particularly partial to his interiors.  Here is another one of my favorites (but truthfully, there are so many, and all so excellent, that it’s hard to choose favorites):

"Moroccan Majlis"_renderings by Muhammad Taher

Inspirational “Moroccan Majlis” rendering by Muhammad Taher

This image of a luxurious sitting room in Doha, Qatar (see the whole series of renderings here), is full of wonderful details and impressive architecture.  Those windows must be 20 feet tall! Muhammed’s work is modeled in 3DS Max and rendered with VRay.

You can see more of Muhammed’s inspiring artistry on his website.  He also has a Facebook page showcasing his recent work.

Sometimes when I see work like this I get discouraged, doubting that I could ever achieve this level of technical and artistic expertise.  But then I remember that it’s always good to have something to aspire to. So I’ll continue to share things that motivate me to keep improving.


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Visualizing a contemporary home remodel

A CRISP, CLEAN, CONTEMPORARY HOME REMODEL DESIGN

Recently, CastleView 3D worked with a couple in Florida who were undertaking a major remodel to the townhome they had purchased.   They had a few preliminary 3D views done by someone working in Sketchup, but they weren’t really satisfied with the level of detail they were able to see, plus they felt the process was taking too long.  That’s when the wife did a web search and found CastleView 3D.  After a brief phone conversation and a couple of emails, a wonderful working relationship was born.

We spent a great deal of time visualizing numerous versions of the kitchen and master bath designs, tweaking the details to get them exactly right.  The couple wanted a sleek, clean, contemporary design — no fuss, no frills, and no curves or rounded edges.  The color scheme was light and neutral — taupe, ivory, palest green, and white, with natural limestone, bleached wood floors, glossy lacquered cabinetry, and some dark wenge wood accents.  Below are photorealistic renderings of these two room designs.

The kitchen design features glossy white lacquer European-style frameless cabinets, frosted glass pantry doors, white quartz countertops, a large island with serving area, and a backlit backsplash behind the stove.

[click images to open full-size]
Contemporary home remodel - kitchen design rendering

Kitchen, island, and dining area

The master bath has limestone counters and tile, white wenge wood floating cabinets, a steam shower enclosure, a skylight, and pale green walls.

Contemporary home remodel - master bath design rendering

Master bath

Over a period of several months, the clients and I also explored various options for the great room, the office, the home theater, the exercise room, and the master and guest bedrooms, to help with finish material choices, lighting, and space planning.  We also worked on visualizing the patio, pool with decorative water wall, and landscape design.  It took over 9 months for the couple to get everything designed to their satisfaction and subsequently approved by their homeowners board.  Below are a few of the renderings done for this project, out of more than 200 total.

Great Room design rendering

Great Room design rendering

Office and home theater rendering

Office and home theater rendering

Home theater design rendering

Home theater design rendering

Landscaping for front entry

Landscaping for front entry

Patio, pool with water wall, and rear landscaping

Patio, pool with water wall, and rear landscaping

These clients were very enthusiastic about the value of their work with CastleView 3D in visualizing their contemporary home remodel.  They say it was extremely helpful in their design planning to be able to see detailed renderings of their ideas.  Some things they originally thought they wanted, such as stainless steel cabinets and a dark marble counter in the kitchen, were eliminated once they saw how they would actually look.

The wife says that the 3D renderings helped her to communicate with her husband and get him excited about her ideas for their home.  The renderings also helped the couple communicate with their contractors about exactly what they want.

“Working with CastleView 3D has been a real gift for us and has made an incredible difference.  Saved us many, many mistakes in our build.  I had no idea how incapable I was of visualizing things from blueprints and plans. We tell people about you all the time!”

NOTE:  All modeling was done in Chief Architect X5.  Renderings were done in CAX5 or in Thea.

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3D renderings of vacation homes

THREE WATERFRONT HOME VISUALIZATIONS

Over the summer, CastleView 3D worked on three visualization projects for clients who were building or remodeling waterfront vacation homes. Rochester, New York (where our world headquarters is located) is situated on the shores of Lake Ontario and in the midst of the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.  So lake homes and waterfront cottages are definitely on a lot of people’s minds around here.

Each project was very different, in terms of the starting point and what the clients needed to see in their 3D renderings.  These projects demonstrate some of the many ways that 3D visualization can be useful when building or remodeling a vacation home.

1.  Canandaigua Lake Cottage:  The Front Porch Addition

[click any image to open full-size]
Canandaigua Lake Cottage: "Before" photo

Canandaigua Lake Cottage: “Before” photo

Canandaigua Lake Cottage: Rendering with porch and dormers

Canandaigua Lake Cottage: Rendering with porch and dormers

This couple had just bought a small fixer-upper cottage on Canandaigua Lake.  They were planning to enclose the original front porch to enlarge the great room, replace most of the windows, and add a new full-length front porch to take better advantage of the view.  The series of visualizations done for them from their photos and hand-drawn sketch of the floorplan allowed them to evaluate various porch options.  It also helped them decide on the shape and placement of dormer windows in the attic to bring more light into the kitchen and great room areas.

2.  Sodus Bay House:  The Siding Question

Sodus Bay House: Front "before" photo

Sodus Bay House: Front “before” photo

Sodus Bay House: Front rendering with pergola

Sodus Bay House: Front rendering with pergola

Sodus Bay House: Rear "before" photo

Sodus Bay House: Rear “before” photo

Sodus Bay House: Rear rendering with siding and transom windows

Sodus Bay House: Rear rendering with siding and transom windows

This client was in the process of building his own vacation home on Sodus Bay, but couldn’t decide on exterior finishes.  Using our renderings created from his photos and hand-drawn floorplan, he was able to experiment with different colors and types of siding, stone, brick, and wood finishes for the exterior, plus various shutter styles for the windows.  We also tried out two different treatments for the front entry, a shed roof porch and a pergola, and suggested the addition of transom windows on the back side of the house to bring in even more light.

3.  Canandaigua Lake House:  Visualizing the Interior

Canandaigua Lake House: Main floor plan

Canandaigua Lake House: Main floor plan

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward kitchen

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward kitchen

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward main entry

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward main entry

When these clients first contacted us, they were still in the planning and design stages for the lake house they were building on their large lakefront lot at the southern end of Canandaigua Lake.  The new lake house was being built as a lovely year-round retreat, to augment the small summer cottage already on their property.  They had blueprints and elevations drawn up by their architect, but they needed detailed visualizations of the interior spaces to help them choose finishes and determine furniture, kitchen, and bath layouts.

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I love being able to use 3D rendering to help people visualize their building and remodeling ideas, especially for fun spaces like cottages and vacation homes.  Making big decisions about the construction and decor of your home is scary — you know you’ll have to live with a wrong decision for a long time, or else pay big bucks to have it made right.  So much easier to experiment and try things out when only pixels are at stake!

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NOTE:  All modeling was done in Chief Architect X5.  Renderings were done in CAX5 or in Thea Render Studio.

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Rehabbing an old house – virtually!

HELPING A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION BY REHABBING AN OLD HOUSE IN 3D

CastleView 3D recently completed a very interesting project.  A remodeler in Illinois contacted me on behalf of his client, a non-profit organization.  The organization was interested in rehabbing an old, run-down house.  They wanted 3D renderings showing the house as it might look AFTER the rehab was finished, to share with their stakeholders and members.

All I was given to work from was two not-especially-clear photos of the current property, which they had affectionately dubbed “Big Blue” — no floor plan, dimensions, or roof plan.  My task was to try to recreate Big Blue as accurately as possible from these two photos, adding foundation landscaping, raised garden beds in the side yard, and some kids on bikes playing outside.  In other words, I needed to make a derelict house look safe and inviting.

Photograph of Big Blue house from front

Photograph of Big Blue from front

Photograph of Big Blue house from side

Photograph of Big Blue from side

It’s obvious from these photos that the house has “good bones” and was once a grand home, but is in desperate need of both cosmetic and structural rehab work.

Here’s the virtual transformation (click image to see full-size):

3D Rendering of Big Blue house from front

3D Rendering of Big Blue from front

3D Rendering of Big Blue house from side

3D Rendering of Big Blue from side

I found out a bit more about the non-profit organization and their plans for Big Blue after the virtual rehab project was complete:

  • The organization is called Beacon Place, and is based in Waukegan, Illinois.  Beacon Place was started by a group of volunteers who had worked in that part of Waukegan for years running a food pantry, among other programs. Last October they decided to move some programs that were piloted at the pantry into a new and larger facility.
  • Once rehabbed, the house will be used by people from the surrounding community, in particular — but not limited to — the children.  There will be a technology room for use by children after school and for their parents; once a child spends enough time learning about the computer, they will be given one to take home (how cool is that?).  Volunteers will help them sign up with Comcast for the $10/month fee that they qualify for due to their income status.  
    There will be a teaching kitchen, gardens for the children, and a summer lunch and backpack program. They plan to listen to the community and provide them with space for ideas they bring to the table.
  • The location of Big Blue is perfect for what the group wants to do. The east side of the house is open space  owned by the park district.  Beyond this open space is a park and beyond that is Lake Michigan.
  • The organization will be relying extensively on volunteers and community members to rehab Big Blue.  It is currently uninhabitable since there is no electricity or water (the pipes have all been stolen).  Please contact them if you live in the area and can help out with this worthwhile project, or would like to support it with a donation.
  • Visit Beacon Place’s website for more information about their programs.

This is the kind of project that is a pleasure to complete.  In some ways, it reminded me of the “roof with a view” project I did a couple of years back, where I added a virtual second story and deck to help sell a home with a fantastic view of San Francisco Bay — but, inconveniently, you had to stand on the roof to see it.  Both projects involved recreating existing buildings from photos rather than from blueprints or plans.  And both involved showing the potential of a house beyond its current state or condition.

I love what I do, and I never get tired of saying how passionate I am about the power of 3D modeling and rendering to help people visualize the future and watch their dreams take shape!


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One home plan, two styles

By Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

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graphic demonstration of a home plan’s flexibility

CastleView 3D recently completed a fun and interesting project.  I was contacted by Alex Schenkar of Schenkar Construction, a design/build firm in the Seattle area.  Alex was preparing for an upcoming home show and wanted some renderings to show off his new home plan. He sent me the plans for a lovely mid-size home designed in a traditional Craftsman style.  His goal was to show people how his firm could customize the basic plan to suit their style preferences.

Alex requested an exterior rendering of the Craftsman style home, but he also asked me to change up the roof lines and finish materials to create another version of the exterior that was more modern or contemporary in style.  He emailed a couple of photos as examples of the style he was looking for, and specified that he wanted the roof to be either flat or no greater than 1/12 or 2/12 pitch (versus the 8/12 pitch on the original plan).  Other than that, he invited me to use my own judgment and creativity.

Below is a comparison of the two very different looks created from Alex’s home plan.

Two 3D renderings of a house, one Craftsman and one Modern, modeled from the same home plan

Two different looks from the same home plan
(click image to see full-size details)

When Alex saw these exterior renderings, he told me that I had “hit it out of the park” and decided he also wanted to showcase two versions of the kitchen and master bathroom in this house.  So, following some basic specifications from Alex about materials to be used, I created Craftsman versions of the kitchen and bath using warm colors and traditional Craftsman details, while making the Contemporary versions cool and sleek, with European-style cabinets and a minimalist color scheme.

3D renderings of two different interior styles applied to the same kitchen and bath layout

Two different interior styles applied to the same kitchen and bath layout
(click image to see details)

I really commend this builder’s creative idea about how to highlight his firm’s flexibility and ability to customize their work to suit a homeowner’s tastes and preferences.  I hope these renderings help draw a lot of traffic to their booth at the home show!

Which of these two styles, Craftsman vs. Contemporary, do you find more appealing?


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