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Rendering vs. Reality

Nashville Cliff

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That's an interesting discussion.


To answer the title of the article: sometimes, maybe, not always. lol



A few thoughts:

-Renderings, by their nature, are supposed to *sell* a building....whether that be to the developer, to tenants, to governments, or the public at large. So the architects/artists are probably going to err on the side of fantasy, not caution, when it comes to producing these. 


-I think there are occasions when the artists themselves don't know for certain how a building will appear, especially if uncommon materials or designs are being used. It is especially hard to imitate lighting and colors. But as computer modeling gets more and more accurate, so will the renderings.


-Piggy-backing on the above point, in order to make the design more attractive, then sometimes the surroundings have to be 'enhanced' as well. For example, a building may be shown with a tree-lined streetscape because it makes the building more attractive...and the city may have plans to make the street tree-lined, but not in the time for the building to be completed. Or, to point out a Nashville example, the design for the ampitheater including several highrises in the vicinity where lowrises or surface parking currently exist. At some point in time, the surroundings *could* resemble that (likely somewhat different), but they don't now. But in order to make the ampitheater and public park look more attractive to the citizens of Nashville, it is rendered with a more urban surrounding.


-It should certainly be noted that while some renderings are a little over ambitious and take some artistic liberties that there are plenty of others that don't do the final product a bit of justice. The example I keep pointing to is the Homewood Suites on West End. I saw that rendering and I was immediately turned off...but the actual building, while nothing spectacular, is astronomically better than the rendering.


-Many of the architects I've met are idealists (not in a bad way -- and some of it may be that most of the ones I know are in my age range, and might not have been worn down by disappointments yet)...and their vision is to create something spectacular...something unique. And sometimes the downfall of that is that their design is not practical or feasible for the development. Or sometimes the winds change during construction and costs are cut...usually the more expensive design frills.


-All in all, I take renderings with a few grains of salt. It's how the building is envisioned. It doesn't mean things won't be tweaked later.

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Really I just wish that renderings would show buildings adjacent to a proposed building using the same scale as that used to draw the proposed buildings. Why use one scale for the proposed buildings and another scale for the surroundings in the same document? That's just plain misleading. And I reject the notion that an architect is unable to show the surroundings to scale.  I get the fantasy part to sell a project to the banks. But as any of us know who have sat through a Planning Commission hearing, the community objections that are raised that can potentially derail a project or a rezoning proposal are (1) how the height, setback and massing will relate to the current surroundings and (2) how traffic ingress and egress will be affected.


Architects could do themselves a lot of favors by providing accurate renderings of their proposed buildings in the context of their actual surroundings to address those community concerns directly in the first place. If the project is done well, it will address those concerns and persuade the public to support a rezoning using something close to facts. Drawing in animes of young white people sipping lates and doing yoga is a waste of time when trying to convince neighbors who are worried about getting to school/work/home in a timely manner or having a development that is quite a bit larger or higher than envisioned in the community plan.  In the case of public or TIF-supported projects, "getting what you paid for" is essential.  If the actual project comes up short of the rendering, the public has every right to feel cheated out of their tax dollars.  Nashville may be dominated by NIMBYs, but this fantasy evasiveness doesn't actually help to build trust and community support, either.


If the architects just want to be visual artists, they should stick to selling their work in galleries.

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