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Top 5 Goals Your Architectural Rendering Can Accomplish


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy

Image Credit: © Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon | Flickr

When you create an architectural rendering, do you stop to think about what exactly you are trying to convey? Perhaps you consider who your audience is — a certain rendering type might appeal to a review board, while another rendering type might appeal to your client. The main idea is for your architectural rendering to capture and convey not only the poetic essence of your particular project, but also the logistical information as well.

You see, an architectural rendering can depict the pinnacle moment of your design, it can showcase a moment of beauty within your design, and/or it can illustrate the functionality of your design. Often, architectural renderings are created to highlight beauty — for instance, the way an architectural material behaves in a particular rendered light. But, it is important to note that an architectural rendering can be so much more.

What Does Your Architectural Rendering Convey?

The following are five top goals your architectural rendering can accomplish when successful. These goals are in no particular order of importance, but each is important in its own way for the success of an architectural project. For each goal, it is important to strategize about what your architectural rendering will convey to reach maximum success within each situation.

  • 1) Win a New Project: When trying to land an architectural project your architectural rendering often has to say a lot within a limited time. Yes, varying building concept angles can help, different vantage points (exterior and/or interior) can convey a vision, and incorporating what the selection committee cares about can go a long way. But what about the architectural journey? The poetics? The functionality? Or the beauty? Find ways to weave these qualities into your rendering. So, the next time you’re trying to win a new architectural project, simply think about what your architectural rendering needs to convey that will distinguish your work from the rest. What makes it better from each of the latter mentioned standpoints? What makes it the best solution? That is a primary goal for the architectural rendering that aims to win a new project.
  • 2) Allow for Architect-Client Decision-Making: At times, when presenting a client with a decision that can impact the design integrity of a project, it may make sense to present them with multiple architectural renderings. This can give them choice. (Just make sure that each choice is acceptable from a design standpoint.) In this case, your architectural renderings need to play off of one another. For instance, “Scheme A” might showcase your desired (more expensive) solution, while “Scheme B” may showcase a more cost-effective (solidly designed) solution. Again, within the architectural renderings, make certain to highlight pros and cons of each — and be sure that each rendering truthfully tells the story behind each scheme.
  • 3) Win Review Board Approval: When trying to win review board approval, it is important to convey that your design has met their concerns. An architectural rendering can do this — as illustration is a great way to “explain” your design and its intent. An architectural rendering can depict your architectural design from varying angles, with different materials, during different seasons, from different vantage points, and even during different phases of construction. Once again, it is important to be strategic about how you present your design to meet a review board’s concerns.
  • 4) Convey Design Idea to Architecture Team: An architectural rendering is a great way to convey, evolve, and build upon an architectural creative vision. Once within rendered form, an architectural design can give a design team a springboard from which to further refine the design. Remember, a rendering doesn’t have to be of a completely finished project — it is a great tool for developing a project as well.
  • 5) Communicate Design Idea to Oneself: Of course, it may help to create an architectural rendering for yourself as you design a building project. In doing so, you can see more clearly how your design needs to evolve — and you can troubleshoot problem areas more quickly as well. An architectural rendering that you use to help you design can go a long way, helping you to make faster (and better) design decisions.

As you can see, the five goals listed above place quite a demand upon architectural renderings. The key is to know who your audience is, and then to present your architectural design in a way that maximizes their understanding. An architectural rendering can convey many messages, so just be sure that you are conveying the right message to the right audience.


what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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