When you choose a profession that is related to the planning and design of the built environment, you are taught to design primarily in a two-dimensional format. Master plans, site plans, and construction drawings communicate the design efficiently so it can be interpreted by members of the technical team and ultimately used by a contractor to build the project. But this standard process is missing a critical link that helps us communicate our designs effectively to clients, stakeholders, and members of the community – many of whom have not received formal training in how to read 2D plans and drawings. Our industry took a giant leap forward when it began embracing digital 3D graphics, and has advanced even more in recent years as working in 3D has become an integral part of the design process.

First, I should say that RVi is using 3D design in a number of ways that aren’t all aimed at making pretty pictures. This technology helps us better understand the site and helps us see potential opportunities, constraints, and conflicts earlier in the process – ultimately saving our clients money and avoiding headaches down the road. However, personally I have taken a keen interest in creating 3D graphics because it pairs my landscape architectural training with my passion for marketing and graphic design. I love being able to create polished graphics that not only help us sell our design ideas to our clients, but even more importantly, they help our clients sell their projects to public and private stakeholders, and ultimately to their target buyers.

Using Lumion and other software, our team has taken our 3D graphics to the next level – including models that we can edit in real time to help make design decisions, video fly-throughs, and even virtual reality scenarios. As the lead 3D designer on many of these projects, I am at the center of the team – coordinating with all team members and making sure each relevant discipline is incorporated into the final graphics package. When you bring together the existing terrain, the planned layout, the architecture, and the design of the outdoor spaces, it can paint a very realistic picture of how the development will actually feel when you experience it in real life.

At the Coachland RV Resort in Truckee, California, our client Roberts Resorts is renovating this iconic Truckee establishment and infusing a fresh, modern perspective. In addition to significant amenity and landscape improvements, part of the development will include park models – tiny homes that are 399 s.f. or less – available for purchase. As part of our design services for the project, we combined the existing terrain, planning layout, and architecture of the park models with our landscape design to create immersive 3D Lumion renderings that the client can use to market this unique property to potential homebuyers. The integrated nature of the Lumion graphics help sell not just the home, but also overall character of the community.

Personally, I have found it very rewarding to see our projects come to life from a 2D CAD plan, to a 3D Sketchup model, to a rendered 3D Lumion model, to finished prints or video fly-throughs. And it’s even more rewarding to see how our clients use these tools at neighborhood meetings, open houses, and sales centers to help others realize and buy in to their vision.