Designing Contribution: Love Your Organic Designer

Paul TiceArchitecture, Engineering, Construction, Multimedia, Rendering, Animation

To My Dearest Collective Human Consciousness,

Buildings that breathe…living architecture….zero carbon-footprint…. Organic phrases and concepts have been continually becoming more and more creative over the years when talking about green, sustainable buildings. There has been a pretty slick transition from this type of concept into the 3D modeling design world with building information modeling (BIM) and innovative renderings.

Russian Solar City Conceptual Design

Having the skillset to facilitate the movement from concept to design is a somewhat unique space to hold, requiring a very peculiar breed of visual architect/technician. These visionaries are not necessarily contracted as the builder, nor are they necessarily the chief designer – but hover somewhere in the mists of the in-between. To become a visual render artist is actually quite the niche. And to create a visual design from an architect’s concept requires a great number of communication skills, not just a little logged computer time, and several stiff cups of… [insert favorite beverage here]. It requires both an analytical and artistic brain operating nearly simultaneously. My experience of these folk look something like this:

Pic Thanks to eHOW

We have a saying in Portland…

Keep Portland Weird


There is a bit of a trend in not only creating pragmatic, sustainable designs, but designs that are mind-blowing and incredibly futuristic because, hey, why not I suppose?! We are pushing the limits of design, seemingly defying the natural laws of physics with some of our structural concepts.

This author finds this very exciting having had his toe in the niche of visual render artist from time to time. Permission to pour into creativity with a budget backing the endeavor is great and clients requesting this sort of service from any artist should not be surprised at the bloodshot eyeballs hovering over a smiling designer during deadline time – one who bids and charges at say 40 hours but actually puts in like 80 because “it has to be just right”.

Yes, it’s a very different work ethic and world that the designer dwells. You can’t fake visual arts. It’s either done or not. And those that do it, “get it.”

The academic world has been digging in deep with their creative solutions to environmental problems. Many of these solutions are both ingenious and beautiful all in one. Nancy Cheng from the University of Oregon comes to mind and her work with ‘shaping light’. A remarkable application of a craft I’ve practiced for several years: Origami. Another is Doris Kim Sung and her work with thermo-bimetals; smart materials that act more like human skin, dynamically and responsively, and can shade a room from sun and self-ventilate.

I’ve worked with software that makes some of these designs possible. Bentley Systems ‘Generative Components’ being one of them – a complex program with robust capabilities as can be seen in the design of the Music City Center by tvsdesign.

So with software that pushes the boundaries of what has historically been possible through real-world physics simulations and with the intermediary visual designers bridging the gap between stakeholder and conceptual designer – we are truly on the edge of amazing territory.

If you haven’t guessed by now, we at ToPa kinda dig this stuff.

ToPa 3D~