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Rincon Park - San Francisco, CA - Office of Cheryl Barton
Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
Jorge Abich: I am a Registered Landscape Architect, LEED Accredited Professional and Associate with the Office of Cheryl Barton (O|CB) in San Francisco, CA. I came to the profession through an appreciation for the environment and a deep-seated interest in the effect of physical environments on the human psyche. As a proponent of robust community participation and investment in public open space, I am also actively involved in promoting sound environmental practices that support a sustainable and inclusive economy. At O|CB, I manage a large portion of the construction documentation and construction administration process for our projects. I am constantly on the lookout for ways to implement technological advancements in our everyday procedures to optimize quality and efficiency in our work.
Novedge: Can you talk about your creative process? How do you approach each project?
Jorge Abich: As a landscape architect, my creative process is inherently responsive. My specialty is implementation and I consider my work similar to solving a puzzle: finding elegant and functional solutions for design problems. It’s not unlike how we work as a firm: O|CB’s process begins by defining a clear problem, responding to the client and stakeholder groups’ needs and helping to establish goals against which to measure design alternatives. We then delve into understanding the natural ecology and spirit of the site, taking into consideration scientific metrics and the site’s physical, cultural and historic characteristics to guide our design decisions. Throughout the process we provide a transparent and engaged workflow, allowing our clients to be active participants. This ensures that we achieve the best results when our designs become reality.
One of the things I appreciate about O|CB is our open dialogue in the early stages of design. At the inception of a project we typically perform a firm-wide design charrette. This process allows us to vet a spectrum of ideas efficiently, taking advantage of the experience of staff outside the project team. It also promotes an inclusive culture where our team’s thoughts and ideas are valued—something that I believe is critical for maintaining healthy relationships within the firm.
AT&T Park – Willie Mays Plaza - San Francisco, CA - Office of Cheryl Barton
Novedge: How do you collaborate with your team?
Jorge Abich: At O|CB we work in an open office plan. Our spatial and organizational layout allows us to collaborate freely at any time. Whether it be a scheduled review, impromptu design charrette or a simple discussion at someone’s workspace, our office culture allows us the ability to interact when we need to in order to work through design issues.
Novedge: What is a recent project that you worked on?
Jorge Abich: We recently completed an intensive master planning project for a major high tech company’s 1-million-sq-ft R&D center on a 42-acre site in an environmentally sensitive area adjacent to San Francisco Bay. Our master plan utilized various sustainable practices in a “systems thinking” approach to establish a robust green infrastructure that included a gradient of healthy and stimulating workplace environments, stormwater management zones, pedestrian networks and viable, ecologically appropriate wetland and upland habitats. We integrated aspects of the Sustainable Sites Initiative, Living Building Challenge and LEED Platinum requirements in our planning process to produce an ecologically advanced master plan for the client’s first ground-up campus design.
UCSF Sandler Neurosciences Building Courtyard + Pedestrian Ways - San Francisco, CA - Photo by Marion Brenner
California Shakespeare Theatre - Orinda, CA - Photo by Bruce Damonte
Another recent project is the De Anza College Media and Learning Center. In keeping with the College’s mission to foster socially responsible and environmentally aware leaders, the project’s goals stipulated a fully integrated building and landscape, outdoor teaching and assembly areas, and reinforced connections to the campus. Our final design provided a multi-layered landscape in which outdoor classrooms, study gardens and a student piazza along a green promenade augment the instructional capacity of the college, establish connectivity to the larger campus infrastructure and serve the diverse academic and user groups. The project received LEED Platinum certification from the Green Building Certification Institute, making it one of the nation’s only community colleges to achieve LEED Platinum certification.
De Anza College – Media and Learning Center - Cupertino, CA - Office of Cheryl Barton
Novedge: What software do you use?
Jorge Abich: To be candid, one of the difficulties I’ve encountered is the lack of information modeling software relative to landscape architecture. I have been an advocate for BIM software since Autodesk announced their first Revit release. I find that there is a high level of detail and accuracy in Revit in regard to buildings that does not translate when utilized for exterior environments. I’ve even tried the LANDCADD and Siteworks Revit add-ons from Eagle Point but found them to be lacking in respect to final construction documentation. I considered developing Revit’s features to produce documentation to meet our standards but the resources it takes to accomplish this makes the endeavor financially unfeasible. This has been a thorn in my side for years! In the absence of a comprehensive LIM platform we utilize AutoCAD for our drawing production. In addition to AutoCAD, we use Sketchup for modeling conceptual design studies, Rhino with V-Ray for advanced modeling with rendering capability and the Adobe Creative Suite for everything in between. I’m still (patiently) waiting for the day that a landscape information modeling platform is released that fully encompasses the scope of our work.
Council Circle at Mindego Hill - Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, San Mateo County, CA - Photo by Marion Brenner
Novedge: What are some of the rewards and challenges of working as a Landscape Architect?
Jorge Abich: The reward part is simple! The greatest reward in my work is seeing a project come to fruition. Whether it is the creation of a small community park or the reestablishment of a natural habitat corridor, I find great satisfaction in realizing projects that enhance our environment and quality of life.
The greatest challenge is to establish relationships with clients who understand and appreciate the role of landscape architects as site planners. In my opinion, landscape architects are distinctly qualified to be site planners due to our cross disciplinary understanding of site systems. With the exception of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) projects, a majority of clients select architects to be lead consultants and task them to develop the site plan. This is not to discredit architects as site planners, but to say that I find that landscape architects are underutilized in this respect.
Cavallo Point – The Retreat at Fort Baker - Sausalito, CA - Photo by Michael Venera
Novedge: One last fun question: as a Landscape Architect, what is your favorite city to visit?
Jorge Abich: This may be cheating, but it’s San Francisco! I know, I know, I live and work here but the first time I visited I was awestruck. There is a fantastic history here. It’s a major city with a bohemian twist. The cultures and subcultures are vibrant, varied, proud and accepting. There is always something going on and there is a place for almost anyone to enjoy themselves here. There is an appreciation for open space and a high level of community participation. The region is rich with amenities and San Francisco is the beneficiary of some of the best wineries, breweries and artisans around. Plus the music scene rocks!! There are days I wish I didn’t live here so I can relive that overwhelmingly joyous feeling of being a visitor.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to let you into my and O|CB’s world. I’ll be on the lookout for the fabled LIM platform. Give Autodesk a nudge, would ya?
Curious to see more of Jorge's work? Head over to the Office of Cheryl Barton's website and Facebook page.
To see all of Revit's new improvements, download a free trial of Revit Architecture 2015 here.
Artlantis Give Me 5 Promotion
It's a great time to upgrade to Artlantis 5 and save. And the same savings apply to any sidegrade from Artlantis Render to Artlantis Studio 5. Here are all the details.
How To Succeed in Architecture: Innovative Workplace Design
Our Google Hangout On Air Series: How to Succeed in Architecture has reached episode #10. We are celebrating big, with an all star line up. We invited Gregory R. Mottola and Rosa Sheng from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Doug Mehl from FENNIE+MEHL Architects and Olle Lundberg from Lundberg Design to talk about the way they designed the workspaces of some of the most innovative technologies companies, such as Square, Twitter and GitHub. Make sure to register to watch the live broadcast, to ask questions live to our panelists.
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Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
Carlo Maura: My name is Carlo Maura and I have been passionate about 3D graphics since I was a teenager, particularly those related to design and architecture. In 2005, after a few years of working as a CAD designer in engineering and architecture studios, I founded 3Dedintorni a studio focused on 3D and CG images for architecture,design, advertising and still life that is based in Torino, Italy.
At the beginning, because of my experience as CAD designer, most of my 3D work was architectural, but now we also work in the advertising field, especially creating still images of products for promotional material and preview. We also provide 3D graphics services to advertising agencies that want to improve their presentations. Also, we model and 3D print (using stereolithography) any type of scale model for architecture and design. And in recent months we have been working on the creation of 3D content of augmented reality for mobile apps. Because of the variety of work carried out, we have our own renderfarm that reduces the time of rendering and enables us to manage a large number of assignments.
Novedge: What is or has been the biggest influence on your work?
Carlo Maura: When I start new work I try to find something, especially images, that inspires me even if it ins't related to the object of my work. I look for something that I think is close to my client's desires. Then,on a more practical level, when I work on still life or interior design images, I optimize the modeling according to the time available and the shots I consider indispensable for creating eye-catching images. For the lighting of the scene I try to set the whole process in order to have the ability to make any changes quickly in post production. For this reason, I make different renders with different lighting that I can mix in Photoshop in order to have more control over the final image.If I have to deal with the modeling and rendering of buildings I try to use as much as possible parametric objects, symmetries, extrusions and instances of repeatable elements to be able to update the model easily if necessary. Most of the textures that I use for the materials are realized from photos I shot specifically for that project.
Novedge: How do you collaborate with clients during the creative process?
Carlo Maura:I try to establish a relationship of trust, which I think is essential to carry out a job like mine, which has a very subjective component. Obviously I follow the client's brief and I combine it with my vision of the project. Over the years I have developed a different sensitivity for each discipline, because architecture and design have different evaluation criteria from advertising. One important thing that a 3D graphic designer sometimes tends to forget is that the client does not evaluate images from a technical point of view but only from a communicative one.
Novedge: What is a recent project that you worked on?
Carlo Maura: Here's the project of a renovated house in Switzerland . Casa Emilio is a free standing house located in the hills above Ascona overlooking Lake Maggiore. The client asked us for some images of the living room area to be used for the sale. We were free to choose the look of the room so we tried to create a neutral setting and we chose stronger colors for the accessories. All the furniture was made by Italian companies. The scene was modeled in Cinema4D, rendered with V-Ray for C4D, and post-produced in Photoshop.
In the project below we had to create photorealistic images for a bag made of waterproof cardboard, called madaibag, design by Francesco Aceto. The intention was to create a young, alternative, highly distinctive and unconventional image, such as the decision to bring an accessory out of the ordinary.
The modeling took a long time because we wanted to make the product 100% realistic and easily upgradeable with different graphics, avoiding problems of distortion with the textures. So I decided to take pictures in an industrial location and I recreated the same lighting using an HDR map created ad hoc to contextualize the bags.
Novedge: What does your workflow look like? What software do you use?
Carlo Maura: I've always used Cinema 4D for modeling and rendering because it's a very intuitive software in which the functions are clear and easy to find and use. The implementation of the sculpting functions that are indispensable for the creation of accurate 3D models is very interesting I use V-Ray for C4D as a rendering engine. Although very complex and with many parameters, V-Ray is intuitive and it was the first software to add to Cinema 4D the possibility of using a physical camera that has the same choice of settings of a real camera. Also, with V-Ray flickerings and artifacts are easily avoidable in the development of animations using different combinations during the prepass phase. Recently I've been using HDR Light Studio, the ideal software to create still life images because it allows the creation of a HDR map you can use for the lighting of a scene, speeding up the creation of a virtual photo shoot in real time. And Marvelous Designer is definitely great news for 3D modeling: it has a very powerful simulation engine that allows you to simulate the behavior of a tissue in a realistic way giving you the opportunity to implement the subdivision of the meshes in order to speed up the tissue setup. Finally, I use Rhinoceros 3D when I work on 3D models used for prototyping and I use Photoshop for the textures.
Novedge: What is Models4D?
Carlo Maura: Models4D is the first and only collection dedicated exclusively to Cinema 4D and V-Ray for C4D users. Models and materials are realistic and ready to be used in scenes. Objects use HyperNURBS, symmetries, instances, and, where possible, are not exploded. All the objects are also arranged in hierarchies. I decided to create Model4D because there are plenty of network resources for users of other software such as 3ds Max, but only a few for Cinema4D users and usually those are the result of exports of models created in other software.
Novedge: What innovations do you find most exciting in your field?
Carlo Maura:The most useful innovation for my work is HDR Light Studio that, I think, has completely revolutionized the approach to the creation of a virtual photo shoot reversing the creative process. Before, you had to manually position the light in 3D space to illuminate an object and only after many render tests you would get the desired result. Now, with a simple click on the object you choose the point of mirroring and in real time you have a render preview and the lights correctly positioned in the 3D space. This allows you to create very complex sets with a total control. Also you have access to a rich library of studio lights. Another interesting innovation is the GPU rendering that allows you to use the graphics card to render with a significant increase in speed. Personally I don't use it because I have access to our internal renderfarm that allows me to continue to work on my Mac while 10 servers calculate the renders!