Friday, March 25, 2011

Paying Attention to the Details

It seems that people do a lot of walking in this area of Centerville.  One day, when we were outside, somone stopped and marvelled about how the house actually looks like the rendering.  Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?  Unfortunately, often it's not so.  With computers, CAD and 3d modelling, I would think it's easier to get it right, but that's not always the case.

I started the 3D design in SketchUpIt's a great computer modelling program.  It's quite helpful to look at a building beforehand in true 3D, and is invaluable in helping a client visualize their project.  This was my final 3D rendering.
I sent this file to Rosanne Minerva, who created this beautiful watercolor rendering for me.
Then I created CAD drawings showing exactly what the house was going to look like, along with details showing how it goes together.  This is one of them.
I like using CAD because, if I show a piece of trim and it's 7 1/4" wide, it's drawn exactly that width.  If I then decide that, proportionately, it should be larger or smaller, it's an easy change.  I place everything where I want it to be visually, then I deduct the thickness of the underlying materials and create a drawing with exact dimensions for the framer.  If everything goes right, the trim fits into place exactly where I wanted it.  At least that's the way it's supposed to work.  And this is how it all turned out.
If you look at the original 3D rendering, you'll notice that the background trees look suspiciously like the background in the real deal.  I was able to take a photo of these trees and stand it up behind the computer model.  Since I was the architect, the contractor and the owner, I could make sure most everything went in as planned.  The rendering shows a gnarly apple tree at the lower left that was unfortunately removed by the site contractor.  That I couldn't fix.

It doesn't always work quite this way.  This is Breezy Gardens, a farm stand/garden center that I designed.
I put some thought in trying to get the details and proportions right.  It was built mostly to plan, and the average person would see it as a nice barn-like building, but I can't help but see how it should have been.  Starting with the cupola, the windows were shrunk and some of the details modified.  The alpaca (they raise alpacas) weathervane may come at a later point.  Then, the front gable and trim was changed.  The angular projection is fine, but rather than having some thoughtful details, there's a stock rectangular louver.  There should have been a large window in the center, flanked by two smaller windows, but now they're all the same size.  And I've come to dislike pork chops and avoid them whenever I can.  I don't mean 'the other white meat', it's the porkchop shaped eave returns that I try to avoid.  It's a 20th century detail that has become nearly ubiquitous.
Finally, the entrance roof wasn't built with the open sloped ceiling.  This would have made the entrance just a little more dramatic, but the flat ceiling must have been easier to build.

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