It’s safe to say we are all tired of thinking about the pandemic. COVID-19 is an unwanted houseguest that has overstayed its welcome, unable to take the hint. In the meantime, we’ve mastered the art of working from home, adopted a lifestyle of taking video calls in our comfy clothes (see: pajama pants) and perfected the ability to social distance. All of this in the hope of continuing to provide legendary service to our clients and partners.
In this new-fangled paradigm so casually referred to as “the new normal,” we’ve all experienced altered lifestyles, but we’ve also been exposed to innovative concepts, resources and software. Along with the new, many have also discovered ways to reinvent familiar tools and strategies that have been a part of our professional services for many years. At Lawrence Group, we’ve jumped head first into working remotely and tapped into our national network to share successful strategies to better serve our clients.
One tool in our arsenal has been the use of 3D visualization technologies. Specifically, we have embraced the 3D visualization program, Enscape, to meet a variety of internal and external needs. For many years, Lawrence Group’s use of Enscape has been limited. It was occasionally used behind the scenes for internal rendering. A more frequent user might have produced a graphic for a smaller project to adorn the cover of a Construction Documents set.
Enhancing Team Collaboration
In an instant, the pandemic has changed so much about the way architects and designers do business. Enscape is one of the resources that has allowed us to hardly skip a beat. Architects and interior designers, now hovering over computer screens instead of conference tables, are working in real time to make conceptual changes to their designs using Enscape at all phases of the project cycle, from concept design to construction.
At Lawrence Group, 3D visualization has allowed our offices across the country to collaborate on projects in new ways, allowing project teams to extend seamlessly to multiple locations. In the course of one week, four of my projects used Enscape to collaborate: one with a solely Austin-based team, one with team members in New York and Austin, one with team members in St. Louis and Austin, and one with team members in all three offices (plus a team member who was traveling at the time).
Engaging Clients in the Process
However, this technology is not just being used for internal conversations. Regularly, our design teams hold conference calls with our clients to review project changes, utilizing Enscape to clearly visualize what their project might someday look like. Presenting these ideas in an interactive, 3D format has expanded the conversations with our clients from “this is how your space is going to be laid out” to “this is how your space is going to feel.”
On a recent project for the City of San Marcos, Texas, our team prepared interior and exterior finish boards for our client’s review. To supplement the traditional finish boards, we also prepared a rendered video using Enscape to illustrate how certain interior spaces would appear with the materials applied. This 3D visualization technology allowed our client to visualize how their space will look, rather than leaving them to try to mentally apply finish board materials to their building.
Lawrence Group is moving beyond just bringing designs to our clients and instead actively engaging our clients in the design of their own spaces. As the end user or owner, our clients want control over the design of their spaces while being mindful that traditionally that level of engagement would be time or resource intensive. Now, our owners and users are able to be more involved throughout the design process, and their spaces are better because of it.
Beyond serving as a collaboration tool, Lawrence Group has harnessed the rendering capabilities of Enscape to produce graphics for our clients and partners to be used in RFQ and RFP responses, finish presentations, marketing materials and so much more. 3D visualization has allowed our firm to be able to pursue projects with clients and partners on short notice because we have the tools to prepare compelling collateral for our presentations in a timely manner. And with more exposure to this tool and designers who strive to advance their skills, Lawrence Group has taken the power of Enscape to the next level, adding client branding, site context and a range of other features to still images, videos and rendered walkthroughs.
There is no question that the trials and tribulations of the past year and the months ahead will gladly be left behind. We are all eager to see smiles instead of masks and share hugs instead of glances at every person that coughs as they walk by. But while we might shed our protective gear and let go of our fears, let’s continue to embrace the innovation, creativity and collaboration that has been a highlight of this shared experience. We are all the better because of this ingenuity, we are well positioned to serve our clients and we are designing better communities for a healthier, more collaborative future.