Architects Blend Traditional Design with New Media
by Richard Buday, AIA
It's an exciting time for creative service agencies. As thousands of businesses make the jump to the "new economy" from the old, computers are changing everything. Excitement comes not only from an increase in clients -- a burst of start-up, dot-com companies -- but also from the new media that agencies use to tell client stories to the public.
Also exciting is who's doing the work. Traditional lines of distinction between advertising, public relations, architecture, computer programming, and graphic design are blurring. Hybrid agencies are cropping up, combining creative talents in new ways.
Their list of services is impressive: from Web site development to building and interior design, from visual identity and logo graphics to advertising and public relations, from multimedia to video production, and from e-commerce consulting to intranet deployment. New creative boutiques mix design with qualities needed to thrive in the new economy -- qualities like speed, flexibility, and market savvy.
Architecture firms turning to computer graphics are not necessarily changing their focus as much as getting back to their roots. Computer graphics is architecture in its purest sense. Design, problem solving, and team leadership are what architects are trained for and good at.
The fact that computer graphic imagery commissions may not lead to a physical building (though sometimes they do) doesn't change the fact that we are designing environments, places, even neighborhoods. Virtual projects are no less architecture than a building that was designed on paper or built of chipboard but never executed in stone and glass. Michael Graves and Frank Gehry designed lots of "virtual" buildings before their "real" ones ever got built. So it is with every architecture student in school. Built or unbuilt, we are all practicing architecture.
Archimage created a multimedia theme park interface for Knowledge Adventure's children's education. Users wear inexpensive 3D stereo glasses to tour the museum and see dinosaur images and animations floating inside their computer monitor.
Image: Archimage, Inc.
Blending design and technology know-how in the late 1980s, Archimage designed a boardroom with videoconference facilities for Compaq Computer Corporation.
Photo: Aker/Zvonkovic Photography
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