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  • Writer's pictureGRender Studio


Updated: Jun 12, 2020

The Franklin Square renovation project in Washington, D.C. designed by Hickok Cole and developed by Avison Young, with architectural visualization by GRender Studio, enhances Philip Johnson’s post-modernist icon with moments of contemporary opulence. The 12-story, 500,00 square-foot commercial building is situated in Washington’s downtown core and business district, immediately across from Franklin Park.

The undertaking focused on revitalizing the building’s main entrance and amenity spaces, where new and existing structural and decorative elements were unified to establish a refreshed environment for the building’s occupants. With the original project development completed in 1989, the structural and ornamental features of the building were still very much in tact, and simply called for certain spatial conditions to be reenergized with modern flare.

The role of visualization a renovation project is to correctly visualize the existing portions of the project for the benefit of viewers’ understanding of the eventual completed scheme, whether that viewer be the building’s designer, developer, or future occupant. Tremendous attention is paid to the existing details, materials, textures and the overall atmosphere of the space, so that the integrity of the existing building is preserved throughout the process of rendering new imagery.

One of the critical procedures in creating an architectural visualization to maintain a dialogue with the client, so as to understand the intent of the design, the purpose of its development, and the project’s ultimate goal. When communication is seamless between the client and the visualization team at the rendering company, creative suggestions can be made and applied continuously. For example, it can be discussed how specific moods can be effectively elicited in architectural renderings, or how to select a particular visualization style that best serves the purpose of the project. This can save valuable time throughout the process of the project’s development, and allows each party involved to remain informed at all times regarding progess being made to the undertaking in question.

In the case of the Franklin Square renovation project in particular, the objective was to produce a warm, elegant ambience that would compliment the existing historical elements of the project, as well as the new contemporary interior design. There was no design intention to overpower the historic charm of the building, but rather, to amplify its character with modern elements given that this iconic structure by the legendary architect Philip Johnson was already treasured by the city of Washington.

A comprehensive understanding of demographics is an extremely sensitive part of the architectural visualization task. The attempt in this project was to select entourages delicately and thoughtfully to portray the majority of the project’s targeted users; in this case being young professionals. The relevance of the depicted characters in architectural visualization is of the utmost importance when attempting to convince viewers that the spaces the photo-realistic renderings are representing will be successful in the real world. Even if it occurs subconsciously, humans rely on visual cues to inform them if images are believable, and the incorporation of the appropriate figures in architectural visualizations substantially increases the believability of potential spaces.

It was also extremely important to represent cultural diversity. Washington D.C. is quite ethnically diverse, and in light of the socio-political crisis of discrimination that the world is facing today, it is increasingly important to provide accurate representations of the communities that projects will be affecting.As part of our core values and morals, we always strive to reflect the diversity of users in our projects. Hickok Cole Architects was instrumental in the selection of entourages for this project’s visualization, and in ensuring the continued promotion of diversity for the development in its new phase of life, following the completion of its revitalization.

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