As an architect, we are given the task of exploring and shaping the spaces we as people want to inhabit. Although sketches and physical modeling are still valid forms of spatial explorations, computer-assisted 3D modeling has become one of the most important tools in any architects’ toolkit. Its ability to coordinate and explore forms in a time-efficient way is unmatched.
Unlike other design tools, a virtual 3D model allows us to work in plan, section, and perspective all at the same time. This allows architects and designers to see the spaces we’re shaping in real time, including future challenges and spatial potential. At the same time, it increases our capacity to understand and communicate our design intent with others.
In my personal design process, a 3D model is the fourth element. I begin with a sketch followed by a physical model. I then digitize this process through a CAD drawing and finally a 3D model. The sketch and physical model help me better visualize and share my ideas while the CAD drawing and 3D model allow me to ascertain the proper dimensions and details to fully execute the idea.
Architecture requires many trades coming together to bring a design to life, including general contractors, engineers, and interior designers. Therefore, the coordination of spaces between different disciplines can be difficult. 3D modeling allows us to bring together the different spatial demands and coordinate solutions that then create parameters for a better overall design. Although Sketchup and Revit are more of the industry standard, the versatile and intuitive nature of Rhinoceros 3D makes it my software of choice.
In the image shown, the challenge was to create a sculptural stair to connect an NYC art gallery with its office space on the floor above. We first explored concepts through sketches and computer-assisted drawings. Afterward, selected ideas were translated into 3D model studies. We then utilized the models to coordinate with engineers on site before proceeding with construction documents. The ability to explore the given site conditions through 3D modeling allowed us to produce a refined and monumental stair that best expressed our client’s needs, as well as our design intent.
Murdock Solon Architects is an NYC architecture firm servicing both residential architecture and commercial architecture. Our work includes NYC brownstones, ground-up homes, retail and office space, and institutional projects. Visit our portfolio to see our projects in New York City, Brooklyn, Connecticut, the Hamptons, and more.