So I am looking at competition renderings and other presentation materials for large scale projects and despite the formal differences in terms of design, the methods of presentation lack emotion and appear virtually the same. You see these misty images with reflective skies and sometimes curvy forms. Where is the damn emotion? It's begging me to ask: "So the F&!$ what?.. yet another copy..." Does anyone else feel the same?

Jan 9, 14 12:50 pm


Jan 9, 14 12:54 pm
1. Copy the image
2. Open it in Photoshop
3. Apply the watercolor filter

Jan 9, 14 1:12 pm

So I guess the question is- why can't we incorporate more emotion into our presentations? Why are designs so cold? 

Jan 9, 14 1:37 pm

Well, BB, would you characterize most architects you know as warm ... or funny?  Stoicism and faux intellectualism is the name of the game.  Without that eyewash as armor, they couldn't hold up the expected facade.  Think of the "discerning index finger on the chin" look. Presentation also cycles.  There's a vernacular for presentation at any given time.  There was a vernacular for presentation when in school, and I'm guilty of following it, too, though I could never digest having to acquire that ridiculous personal style described above.

Jan 9, 14 1:53 pm


The point is, architects are too indolent to develop specific visualizations that tell stories of their own works. Presentations are monotonous and highly resemble one another. The virtual world of representation is chaotic yet oddly stagnant dew to deficiency in conscious creations. 

Jan 9, 14 1:53 pm

Do any of you know the difference between presentation and representation?

Jan 9, 14 1:55 pm

The point is, architects are too indolent to develop specific visualizations that tell stories of their own works. Presentations are monotonous and highly resemble one another. The virtual world of representation is chaotic yet oddly stagnant dew to deficiency in conscious creations.

I'm not too troubled by this.  Even with everyone employing similar presentation styles, the design comes through in each case.  It's not that hard to shut out the fru-fru of the presentation, or stark simplicity in presentation, if that's in vogue, and focus on the design.  I can think of some presentation techniques that have a lot of clutter, almost as if an exaggeration or trying to augment the underlying design.

Jan 9, 14 1:57 pm

Presentation means the elements of facts. Representation means an artificial medium constructed toward that compact of reality. It is the threshold through which you perceive and cognize.

I think Dalibor Vesely will help.

Jan 9, 14 2:09 pm

I don't have any problem with representation; just pastiche as it is interpreted by most "visual artists". There is no need for renderings to look the same over and over and over again. 

Jan 9, 14 3:06 pm

same as it ever was, isn't it?

everybody did the beaux arts way for a while. 

everybody put a red square at the bottom of a pencil/color perspective view for a while.

everybody copied paul rudolph's inked sectional perspectives with dense hatching for a while. 

everybody colored in their cartoony sketches with pastel colored pencils for a while. 

there's actually probably more range in how people can/do create presentation drawings now than ever before! sometimes sketchup, sometimes rhino, sometimes tricked out in photoshop, sometimes LTL-style faux hand-drawn translucency...

it's notable to me that you can sometimes recognize the architect by the style of the rendering. 

Jan 9, 14 3:40 pm

"it's notable to me that you can sometimes recognize the architect by the style of the rendering."

Yes- but can you differentiate between an SOM project and a KPF project solely based on a rendering?

Jan 9, 14 3:59 pm

If every architect had their own style of visualization...

... most of them would be illegible.

Jan 9, 14 4:24 pm

One could almost define professional conduct with the absence of emotion. Not that it should be this way, just that it is that way. 

Jan 9, 14 5:18 pm

The following are renderings from 3 different firms. Which firm designed which project, assuming you don't know the project already?

the firms are: SOM, KPF, BIG


to answer you question about pastiche, let's first define pastiche- "A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists."

Based on the above images, the visual artists are clearly using similar techniques to arrive at high contrast glowing images. Considering the fact that most of these "visual artists" are based in China and they like to copy stuff (specifically techniques), I would not be surprised at all of the reasoning behind these glowing images is based on something they have seen elsewhere... Hence using this pastiche as their own technique. 

Jan 9, 14 5:47 pm
vado retro

does anybody remember laughter?

Jan 9, 14 5:58 pm

By emotion I'm talking about representation that leaves something up to the human imagination. Computers and renderings like the ones above make everything so blatantly obvious. Hand renderings are not as precise or as real as computer generated images like the ones above. You know exactly what you are getting in the end. Where is the excitement in a project if you know exactly what you are getting? I know that the nature of architectural practice has changed, but it seems more exciting to not know everything than it is to know it. By knowing everything, I mean knowing exactly how something is going to look, exactly how the material is going to appear and so on. This is exacerbated by some program's ability to calculate light down to the photon! Hand renderings, specifically shadows, unless you are a master painter, don't have that level of detail and those are the kinds of images I believe incorporate emotion; architects who hand render rely on their feelings to choose the level of detail to portray, represent, their concept unlike visual artists who depend on the computer to do that for them. 

Jan 9, 14 6:23 pm

Oh and Quondam- 

You are right about BIG; the second one is actually KPF. 

Jan 9, 14 6:24 pm
chatter of clouds

Still, does the professionalizing/sanitized/standardization of the presentation not also signify a similar ethos in the design project proper ethos? We see less of the adventurous trends in representations more dominant in the late seventies to early nineties of the last century and similarly, we see a more conservative attitude towards architecture as a much more closed field. 

In other words, its not that emotionless representation leads to or deliberates to signify an emotionless architectuer (emotion/emotionless being hyphenated - we can find other words) but that it betrays a disposition common to both, design and its representation..

Jan 9, 14 10:50 pm

I think someone is jealous of my fabulous renderings.  If it makes you feel any better, it only took me 3 hours to do all three of those renderings.

Jan 9, 14 11:03 pm

^Quan- are those really "your" renderings?

Jan 9, 14 11:32 pm

I wish. Not that great w/ my renderings.

Just trolling =)

Jan 9, 14 11:35 pm

Quondam your question is multiplex in nature and can be unfolded in two ways. And I assume that by questioning how a presentation can have any impact on the real product, you are actually a realist or an essentialist. After all the design decisions have been made and  the BIM model is even available, nothing representational can change the material composition of the product, the functional mechanism of it and merits in geometrical sophistication and advancement. In this case, what you may conceive as "quality" is already done and no medium can help to change that fact. Imaging this, two fellow graduates from GSD with the exact same skill sets start to work separately for SOM and KPF on the same competition, come up with projects with no intrinsic difference, however, there happens to be a visual technician with a unique style at SOM  help to elevate the quality of presentation of the SOM project to an artistic level. Then, oddly enough, the client decides to build both projects side by side and they come out with exact same quality. If presentation can be so alienated from the design process and I guess the answer to your question is no - a presentation with emotion does not have any actual effect on the quality of the design.

In academic context where design does not usually lead to a final build product, your representation IS your architecture, it is the most legitimate incarnation of your design intention, it is how you see the world and how you would like to present your world to others. 

Even in the former case, if you have heard about the Representational Crisis of Bilbao Guggenheim, the answer to your question will become a yes.  Six years after the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao is built, pictures of the museum available through cyber space can be categorized down to 5 perspectives. Tourists download these pictures into their iPad already imagine what the museum would look like. When they arrive at their destination they walk around the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum matching the photos on their iPad to the physical one, as if they do not see the museum until they can achieve that perfect match. If most of your time recognizing a real architecture is through its pictures and the imagery in these pictures becomes the real. It is the same how celebrities manipulate the image of themselves in this digital age. If you have never seen Kim Kardashian in person, what you have online is all you have. South park s17e10 has a good stand point on this.

Jan 10, 14 12:25 am

Here are some samples of my emotional and sappy renderings for ya.

Jan 10, 14 3:08 am
Why don't you architects design what we (the public) want....buildings that put us in the mood?
Jan 10, 14 7:02 am

BB, early in my career, I worked with a retired brand-name movie producer to create a fundraising movie for a college that wanted to update buildings all over the campus. I was an intern, working for my boss who wanted those photo-realistic images so that is what I did, about 20 of them. At a progress meeting with the producer (a bit of a curmudgeon), he told me the same thing you said, "Leave something to the imagination, people aren't that stupid." i agreed but my boss, the architect, trumped the producer (how?) and I did photo-realistic stuff. 

Jan 10, 14 8:09 am

Well I guess with that- we can segway into a discussion about eroticism and how that is more interesting at times because it relies on fantasy... too often we hear the term "sexy renderings" yet there really isn't anything truly sexy (or as many would incorrectly say- "erotic"). 

Jan 10, 14 10:23 am

i haven't worked out all of the details, but i think you can see what you want in this image:

Jan 10, 14 11:44 am

Curt- a blank canvas is different from an abstract image. Unless you define the two as the same. 

Jan 10, 14 12:35 pm

It's not blank. It's a still life of a minimalist painting on the wall of an igloo during a snow storm.

Jan 10, 14 2:15 pm

bulgar re: eroticism and "architectural" drawings seen these...?

Jan 13, 14 9:45 pm

Too literal...

Jan 13, 14 10:42 pm

wheres the emotion? i think its somewhere in 2005

Jan 14, 14 12:28 am
boy in a well

hey vado -

is that a Robert plant quote?

Jan 14, 14 5:43 am

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