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Architectural Visualization: Building a Library of 3D Models

Art, science, and engineering. It may seem counterintuitive, but the three are intertwined in architecture, where functional and esthetically pleasing appearance go hand in hand with sound structural design. Architects are artists at heart, striving to create and shape space that people want to live in and enjoy living in. As a result, one of the architect and designer's biggest challenges is the preparation and presentation of means by which customers and clients can visualize concepts, plans and details. In the past, this was done almost exclusively via floor plans, elevations and architectural renderings. Today, 3D models are used to make plans and concepts come to life like never before.

If you watch a movie like James Cameron's Avatar, you realize how incredibly far computer graphics and animation have come. What once was simple wire mesh models with crude 3D rendering is now almost life-like reality, and often beyond. For architects that means it's become possible to not only show the exterior and space layout of a proposed structure in 3D, but also the interior. There are numerous software products out there that allow the generation of 3D models, there are standards and file formats to make it all work, and there is enough computing power to render it all beautifully and in meticulous detail. Given enough time and effort, what began as a concept in an architect or designer's mind can be presented in life-like realism for clients to review (or judges in design contests to judge).

They key word here is time. While it's possible to create, for example, visually perfect 3D interior design modules, that takes a lot of time and practice. And today's technology allows a degree of detail and perfection that simply never stops. It's well possible to spend as much or more time on creating the absolute perfect set of 3D furniture, down to the last detail, as it takes to generate the design of the entire building. Obviously, it's not economically feasible to spend an inordinate portion of the time allotted to a project on the generation of 3d interior design models, and so it becomes a matter of making the presentation look as good as possible without exceeding the budget or schedule.

The answer is a library of 3D models that can be used with different colors, materials and textures whenever they're needed in a project. These can either be created or purchased on the emerging marketplace for 3D models. The quality and detail of those models, usually available in all the major formats (3ds Max, obj, fbx, etc.), ranges from simple and sometimes free, all the way to stunningly detailed and just plain gorgeous. Using V-ray rendering and a degree of detail simply not possible within the time constraints of most projects, these 3D models make architectural interiors shine and show them off in lifelike perfection.

It's hard to overstate the value and importance of a good library of 3D furniture and 3D interior design modules. They represent the type of realism and perfection customers have come to expect for computer-generated visuals, and they can be the difference between a winning design and an also-ran.

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