Posts by AHBE LAB

When it comes to styles, Lidija Grozdanic from Architizer, recently published a post identifying seven mainstream rendering styles used in the architectural visualization market. We conclude our three part series (part one and part two) about the field of virtual representation looking at these styles, alongside four additional styles I’ve noted common in the professional vernacular.

Image: Samaranch Memorial Museum by HAO Holm Architecture Office.

Rendering Styles (by fashion):

  • The Mad Max: A fantasy-oriented style of rendering in which context and lighting plays a major role to furnish the architectural object. Often used for aerial shots, this style works best when applied to large-scale project interventions to communicate an idea of innovation and state-of-the-art technology: skyscrapers, stadiums, arenas, large shopping centers, theatres, opera houses, etc.
  • The Whodunit: A cold-toned, conceptual-like render ideal for showcasing parametric design, materials, and shapes. Mostly used for medium to large scale interventions, like multiple-story buildings. Better suitable for projects which incorporate a lot of white-colored surfaces.
  • The David: This photorealistic style is very intimate for showcasing a project’s angles and composition, since it focuses primarily upon details and the quality of execution. Photographic techniques like depth of field and a combination of exposures supplement the effect. The architecture and the landscape play an equal secondary role, best suited to showcase details, furniture, and individual features.
  • Paranormal Activity: The use of transparencies and the emphasis in vegetated areas make this style a good candidate for projects requiring a ‘green’ factor in their imagery. This conceptual style is fuzzy and it is great for those projects which incorporate a lot of vegetation.
  • The Gondry: Named after the filmmaker, The Gondry is a challenging approach to traditional architectural compositions. Artistic, geometric, and intentioned, this technique uses mixed elements using photographs, cutouts, and/or 3D models. It is a great asset for representing art-oriented projects, and by its nature, it offers an extra ability that the other styles lack: the clear communication of private goals into the project, whether it be political, social, or philosophical.
  • The Theodore: A glamourous photorealistic project style often rendered in warm tones where natural light and diffuse materials play a major role in the composition. Works better in interiors, being proficient at promoting comfort and inhabitability of the space; i.e. healthcare, workplace, and institutional projects.
  • The Katherine Heigl: A style named after the actress that focuses upon two things primarily: to show how the design solution adapts to its context, and to highlight the given ‘social acceptance’ of design. The landscape plays a major role as well, serving as a judge for the architectural elements. The composition, as Grozdanic mentioned, seems to play upon nostalgic memories and emotions of the audience.

I would also add the following four additional styles I’ve identified as common within the architecture and landscape architecture industry:

  • Real-estate: Perhaps the most traditional of all, it relies on saturated colors, communicating clear ideas of vegetation areas, materials, and shapes. The simplistic 2-point perspective shots have been the favorite of real-estate companies in the past decades, showing ‘enough’ to sell the product and to communicate the design intent and program. Usually these are exterior façade shots of residential, commercial, and institutional projects. [Example 1, Example 2]
  • Layered: A poetic style chosen to portray specific features and programs in the composition. It plays in such a way that some elements receive a special focus of attention by incorporating more level of detail  (i.e. photorealistic textures, while some other remains more conceptual). It has clear edges that define where one space ends and where the next one begins. It is basically a render-diagram that highlights the functionality of the space. Works better when using one-point perspective or bird’s eye views. [Example 1, Example 2, Example 3]
  • Fragmented: White space, desaturation, photomontages, and diffuse edges define this style. It incorporates a great balance of minimalism, communication, and graphic skill set, and is best applicable for adapting other elements like text, key maps, and signage into the composition, all arbitrarily sectioned by geometric shapes. It usually uses one-point perspective compositions. [Example 1, Example 2, Example 3]
  • Nature Walk: Perhaps the style best suited for landscape architects, the Nature Walk incorporates a great level of detail in plant species and trees, using cutout elements to populate the scenery. A template generated by a 3D model often serves as a guide for mapping textures with Photoshop or other editing software. Most of the heavy production tasks are done here through photomontages, producing a characteristic look recognized by diffuse soft edges and brushes. Somewhat like the Katherine Heigl technique, it is oriented towards the landscape. [Example 1, Example 2]
  • Crowd-oriented: If the program allows it, this style places a strong focus upon 2D people cutouts to give life to a place. This style makes the place play a secondary role to its imagined inhabitants. [Examples, Example 2]

There are many other authors out there that have compiled similar visualization techniques lists to offer professionals a wide variety of options to add to their repertoire. Be sure to take a look at the following works:

Westweek 2017
Pacific Design Center’s WESTWEEK 2017 Spring Market theme … ICONS+INNOVATORS … celebrates today’s seminal standard bearers and groundbreaking influencers leading the design industry ever-forward, with presentations featuring top talent who both embody and deliberate on what it means to be iconic and innovative in the design world now.
When: March 22-23, 2017, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Where: Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90069

UCLA’s Landscape Architecture Program 40th Anniversary Celebration
“2017 is the 40th year the Landscape Architecture Program has been offering courses here at UCLA Extension. As part of that celebration, we are putting on two celebratory events. Both events will take place on Saturday March 25th.”
When: March 25, 2017; Luncheon: 1pm – 2pm
Presentations: 2pm – 4pm
Where: 1145 Gayley Ave.

Building Change LA
Building Change LA is the new initiative that the Office of Mayor Eric Garrett is launching in partnership with local and national organizations to refresh and futurist policies and processes that inform how we design and build the city sustainably and resiliently. Join us for a knowledge exchange to kick-off this initiative.
When: March 23, 2017, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Where: 900 E 4th Street, Los Angeles 90013

TOMATOMANIA! @ Descanso Gardens
“Back by popular demand, TOMATOMANIA!, the world’s largest tomato seedling sale, returns to Descanso Gardens. Activities free with admission unless otherwise noted.”
When: March 25, 2017, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Where: Descanso Garden, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

Creative Placemaking: Economic Development for the Next Generation
“Join the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design for a free webinar tracing creative placemaking’s economic development outcomes. The webinar will feature Zachary Mannheimer of Des Moines, IA, and his approach to economic development in small towns with a focus on retaining young people and creative professionals. The webinar will provide landscape architects and other design professionals with an overview of the way creative placemaking enhances livability and economic opportunity for small towns and rural communities.”
When: March 23, 2017, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Where: ASLA Webinar

The Quest To Grow Cities From Scratch: “The prospect of building cities out of materials that can grow, self-heal, and adapt to changing circumstances on their own is near the point of becoming a reality, according to some working in the field. Eben Bayer, founder of the biomaterials startup Ecovative, predicts it will happen before 2050.”

City infrastructure could turn Los Angeles into a pedestrian paradise: “If Los Angeles wants to get serious about the street safety of Angelenos, it needs to rework the walkability of its streets. Right now, streets in Los Angeles are clearly utilized with the driver in mind. For example, the majority of space on almost every street is allocated to cars, while pedestrians are confined to small slivers of sidewalk space. While this is how we are conditioned to think of streets, this does not have to be the case.”

For Urban Transit, a Hostile Budget: “The budget proposes “funding to projects with existing full funding grant agreements only.” That means Boston’s Green Line extension and the Portland-Milwaukee light rail project in Oregon would be safe, among others. But some of the most “shovel-ready projects” in the country, to use a Trump team-favored phrase, don’t have a full agreement in place, including Caltrain’s electrification project. Dozens of projects would be in limbo, among them several metros that passed major transit referenda in November, including Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Seattle. ”

I’m 35 and I love gardening. Deal with it: “Gardening is many things: beautiful, meditative, healthy, exciting, rewarding and creative. However, I often feel as if gardening is not particularly popular among my peers. It seems to come down to one thing: age. I’m 35 years old and I’m passionate about gardening.”

The Crushing Defeat of Measure S Is a Defining Moment for L.A.: “The election this week revolved, in so many ways, around development. There was Measure S, the controversial anti-development ballot measure, but also the mayor and City Council races, in which the incumbents were attacked, time and again, for allowing density in L.A. It’s no exaggeration to say the election was a referendum on development, on density, on urbanization. And density won.”

It is doubtful anyone in Los Angeles needs convincing about the near-record amount of rainfall that drenched the city this winter. In comparison to drought-stricken winters past – and according to the LA Almanac – Downtown Los Angeles has received approximately 17 inches of rainfall since December of 2016. That’s impressively almost 8 inches more than for the same period of time during a normal winter.

Just over a year ago, AHBE Lab examined three recently constructed AHBE projects, setting out to identify how each were responding to that year’s El Nino storm event. Today we revisit these three sites, curious about each of their performances during this winter’s unusually inclement conditions. Here is what we found:

Photo: Jennifer Salazar

Monrovia Station Square Transit Village
The Monrovia Station Square Transit Village project included streetscapes envisioned as a sustainable connection between the surrounding neighborhood to the station. The Chilopsis trees shown above are planted in infiltration flow-through planters along Pomona Avenue and have captured recent rainfall, a feature we credit for the healthy tree growth.

Infiltration planters along South Myrtle Avenue have grown in with the grasses, while large oak trees and taller groundcover plants have filled in the wide buffer between the sidewalk and the parking lot. Photo: Katherine Montgomery

Carex alma (Sturdy Sedge) and Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Lenca’ (Regal Mist Pink Muhly) were grasses specifically chosen for this project, and they appear to have grown in to fill the planters. The Silva Cells installed adjacent to each street tree are topped with permeable pavers, the combination likely helping to increase the size of the trees with an increased amount of rainfall being delivered to the trees’ roots.


The rainwater fed creek running across Johnny Carson Park. Photo: Evan Mather

Johnny Carson Park
The plants in the now natural bottom stream continues to fill in at this ASLA Southern California Quality of Life award-winning project. Some areas still hold recent rainfall in the creek. Rainwater also appears to be flowing as designed into the restored creek, later to be infiltrated into the sand bottom or to empty into the L.A. River.  Various riparian Salix, scrub, and perennial species have grown vigorously adjacent to the stream channel, providing a more natural appearing edge to the restored stream. Ducks have also been spotted swimming in the standing pools of water between storms.

Photo: Wendy Chan

Torrance Stormwater Basin – Entradero Basin
Entradero Stormwater Basin is one of many detention basins in the City of Torrance that mitigates and cleans storm water runoff before it’s released into the Santa Monica Bay. This stormwater basin was integrated into an existing park with baseball fields and playgrounds, so it essentially became a recreational feature for the community park. The park has evolved into a lively and well frequented public space populated with the activity of little leaguers, children playing along the basin edge, water fowl, and residents exercising  along with their dogs in tow across the trails.

Photo: Wendy Chan

Thanks to the plenitude of rain this winter the basin is currently filled with water. A pair of geese, a family of ducks, and various others birds currently make the seasonal basin their home. The planting is filling in and working overtime to help clean the runoff water. A restoration ecologist helped AHBE develop a planting palette to correspond with the various levels of inundation along the sloped basin. For example Lupinus spp. and Salvia spp. were planted along the upper slope of the basin where plants are rarely inundated with water, while Frankenia salina inhabit the lower basin where plants are seasonally inundated during the rainy season.

Entradero Park. Photo: Wendy Chan

The Entradero Basin provides a natural system for storm water mitigation, but also provides residents trail opportunities to enjoy the basin as a natural feature in the park. The basin appears to be working wonderfully to clean pollutants from storm water runoff and recharge groundwater aquifers by permitting water to slowly infiltrate, while additionally providing habitat for surrounding wildlife – in its entirety, the project is an example of how green infrastructure can be integrated into a community.

This post was authored by Wendy Chan and Jennifer Salazar.

Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean
“Writer, sailor, and surfer Jonathan White journeys deep into the world’s oceans in his new book Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean. From investigating the growth of tidal power generation in Chile and Scotland to delving into the threat of rising sea levels in Panama and Venice, join us for this exploration of the current state of our oceans’ infinitely complex and ever-changing ecosystems and the forces that keep our planet’s waters in constant motion.”
When: March 16, 7:15pm
Where: Mark Taper Auditorium-Central Library

L.A. Nature Fest
Experience nature in a whole new way! NHMLA is giving you two days to get up close and hands-on with all things nature. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a nature newbie – L.A. Nature Fest is for you, with over 30 exhibitor booths in partnership with local organizations, access to scientists and nature experts to answer all your questions, live animal presentations, stage performances and nature walks, expert tips on how to attract wildlife to your garden, nature crafts​, and early morning bird walks.
When: March 18 and 19, 9:30 am – 5 pm
Where: Exposition Park, 900 Exposition Blvd

Dream Big 3D
“From the world’s tallest buildings to underwater robots and a solar car race across Australia, Dream Big 3D celebrates the human ingenuity behind engineering marvels big and small, and shows how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways. Discover the inspiring stories of human grit and aspiration that reveal the compassion and creativity that drive engineers to create better lives for people and a more sustainable future for us all.”
When: Now playing
Where: 700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037

David Bowie: Among the Mexican Masters
This unique archive captures intimate moments between the legendary musician and the cultural heritage of Mexico made during Bowie’s only visit to Mexico City 20 years ago.
When: Now till June
Where: Forest Lawn – Glendale – Museum

Hanging On: A Tale of Two Desert Icons
“The ocotillo and Joshua tree are iconic plants of the California deserts, indeed the entire Southwest. Not only are they two of the largest plants found on California desert flatlands, both species are widely planted as ornamentals and have names or images adorning hundreds of souvenirs and business logos from Las Vegas to Tucson and beyond. Cornett will share the results of his decades-long studies on the population dynamics of these two iconic species with particular emphasis on the Joshua tree as his research on this species has just finished.”
When: March 13, 2017, 10:00 a.m.
Where: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center Discovery Laboratory