Lately, one of our designers, Margot Halpin, has been producing images and videos for the redevelopment of Port of Vancouver, Terminal 1. They’re kind of breathtaking, especially because they’re just ideas… for now.
We asked Margot why she’s been working on them and where they’ve come from. Here’s some of what she said:
Why Do Them?
“These graphics can be used to gather community support. It’s just another way of clearly communicating ‘what could be.’ That’s our job as landscape architects, not only to design beautiful spaces, but to communicate as clearly and succinctly as possible. Typically, these visualizations are used to foster project inspiration, to get more public involvement, and to build more funding to push the project forward. People often have a harder time grasping a design concept from the plan view—the two-dimensional view from directly above.”
“The reasoning behind all of our hand sketching, 3D modeling, and visualizations is to access the largest audience possible and to help people understand what a design would feel like if it were to be built.”
“The video simulations are unique, but I think the renderings, the still shot images, are even more beautiful because we can capture—for example—what standing on the dock at Terminal 1 would look like during the sunset. We can produce something romantic. My hope is that someone may look at that image and think, ‘I want to be there.’ This is why renderings were used to make a case to state legislators for funding Terminal 1.”
How Do You Do It?
“It’s a relatively extensive process. It starts with developing the design through sketches in ‘plan’ view. Once the design has been solidified in that space, we translate the hand sketches into our computer drafting program. From there, we bring the two-dimensional design into a 3D rendering software—SketchUp or Rhino—and build all three-dimensional objects up from the ground, starting with curbs, plant beds, and pillars; then moving to more complicated structures, usually designed by other firms.”
“I’ve definitely joked that I sometimes feel I’m playing ‘The SIMS’ at work with this program.”
“For this project, the Public Market was designed by Graham Baba Architects, the Hotel by DLR Group, and contextual buildings by MWA Architects, so we all worked together to represent the buildings accurately. It was relatively seamless, integrating their already built SketchUp models into the process.
Lastly, once the 3D objects are built out, we bring the model into our rendering software, Lumion. Lumion is a program originally designed for video game designers and now is quite popular among architects, interior designers, and landscape architects. It provides materials, texture, and movement; allows us to play with shadows; and we use it to add vegetation, people, and cars. You can then make the people move by putting them on these paths that look like invisible treadmills. It’s kind of fun once you learn to make them stop, look around, and then keep walking.
Something I’m excited to explore in the future is using this program with virtual reality goggles. Allowing people to stand in one place and look around as if they were in the built project.”