I couldn’t help but notice the buzz in the air as I walked one of our project sites recently as the “bones” of the house were being put into place. The general contractor was excited to get the walls up, the vaulted spaces were taking shape, and the architecture team (myself included) were thrilled to see the concept created together with the homeowner come to life.
This got me thinking about how this experience must feel for our clients. When does the project become ‘real’ for them? At what point are they able to visualize the finished product? How can we help them understand the size, scale, and proportions of what we’re creating together?
As architects, our design challenge is to convey our ideas through drawings and imagery in a way that the client can visualize. From the very start of our education, the language of drawing is ingrained in us. We have formal training in understanding two-dimensional drawings, plans, sections, and elevations, so how do we relay that information for clients to understand in a three-dimensional world?
Historically, architects relied on drawings to present a project; starting with two-dimensional drawings including plans, sections, & elevations. However, these drawings can be difficult to understand, therefore drawn perspectives and small-scale models were, and still are, methods to further convey the design ideas of a project.
In the present day, we’re still drawing by hand but also use Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology to aid in showcasing design ideas. BIM is helpful to create a virtual world for the project, generating both two-dimensional drawings, as well as a real-time corresponding three-dimensional model.
With BIM, the design process becomes a fun and interactive experience for both the client and the architect. For each project, we bring our clients into the experience of designing. We involve them in working design meetings at the office, where we are able to virtually bring them inside their design project. We often design “on the fly” within these meetings, using real-time input to update the three-dimensional model. This is one of my favorite aspects of the design process, where architecture becomes a shared experience and design ideas come to life.