Thursday, November 19, 2015

Architectural Software Programs

By: Hunter Wilson

I am Hunter Wilson, a student currently studying in the Southern Illinois University Masters of Architecture program.  I began my education at Vincennes University located in my hometown of Vincennes, Indiana.  After receiving an Associate’s Degree in Architectural studies, I transferred to SIU where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree and still study today.
            There are multiple different computer programs available today to help realize architectural projects.  AutoCAD and Revit are great construction documents tools and also have rendering capability.  Rhino and 3ds Max have great modelling capabilities.  Another tool that helps visualize architectural projects is Lumion.  Lumion is a virtual environment in which you import your building model.  Your building model may have been constructed in other programs such as the ones listed earlier.  Lumion helps visualize a project by adding materials to the model in real time 3d.  With Lumion’s tools, graphic renderings can be produced to create a realistic scene of your proposed piece of architecture.  Now, Lumion is “not” the best rendering program.  But it helps those in the architectural profession, especially students, in different ways.
            What this program helps with the most is time.  The materials are added in real time which means you have a preview of what certain materials, such as wood, will look like on your building model before you even produce a rendering.  With other programs, you must apply a material and run an actual rendering just to see the results.  You can see how this would help those in the architectural profession because time might be the most important factor in the business.  After your scene is set, you will want to produce a rendering of your final product.  Lumion produces great renderings, but definitely not the best.  The best rendering can be produced by using programs such as 3ds Max along with VRay.  The deal with VRay is that, to produce a high quality rendering, it may take multiple hours to complete.  With Lumion, a high quality rendering can be completed within 20 minutes or less.  Lumion’s rendering may not be up to par with other programs, but it produces enough quality to look very professional.  Again, you can see how the time management may inquire one to use Lumion over another program. 
            Another positive is the use of processing power and visual graphics power on the computer.  To produce a high quality VRay rendering, the power of the computer must be very advanced.  The higher the computing power, the lower the rendering time.  The lower the computing power, the rendering time could increases by hours.  Many students are not exactly wealthy enough to purchase a high power computer.  So many students are not able to produce a VRay rendering because to run one on their computer could literally take days to complete.  For Lumion, high processing and graphics power is still very beneficial.  But for students who are unable to gain this computing power, Lumion is still very doable.  The thing is that where a VRay rendering on low computing power could increase the rendering time by hours or days, the Lumion renderings would probably only increase by the half hour or a couple hours.  This still allows for great time management and productivity. 

            These architectural programs are wonderful for visualizing in three dimensions.  But these programs cannot produce the human element that makes architecture connect all people.  Hopefully the future will not eliminate the skills and tools that are used to make architecture the true craft that it is.

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