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    Once and Future Graphics Pioneer

    by B.J. Novitski

    In the glitzy world of computer-generated visualizations that dominate movies and magazines today, it's easy to take for granted the photographic quality that architects are able to give their renderings of proposed buildings.

    But behind the scenes, there have been have been four decades of grueling, dedicated, and inspired research to make possible these synthetic images that are indistinguishable from photographs.

    One of the world's leading laboratories in this field is the Program of Computer Graphics (PCG) at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. Director Donald P. Greenberg has led the program since its founding in 1974. Greenberg, his staff, and students have developed the theoretical basis for many of the practical applications that architects now use routinely.

    For example, research performed at Cornell's PCG led to the development of Lightscape, a rendering program capable of creating very realistic lighting effects by calculating the precise amount of light reflected from surfaces and materials within a scene.

    A Unique Research Program

    Greenberg was educated in architecture and engineering at Cornell and Columbia universities. As a consulting engineer with Severud Associates, an architecture and engineering firm, he was involved with the design of the St. Louis Arch, Madison Square Garden, and other projects.

     

    Continue...

    ArchWeek Photo

    Today, Cornell student Ivan Perez Rossello's computer graphic of an Indian Culture Museum, with a view out to the desert landscape of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, is virtually indistinguishable from a photograph.
    Image: Program of Computer Graphics

    ArchWeek Photo

    Then and now. In 1971, when computer imagery was virtually unheard of in architectural circles, researchers at Cornell University created an image of the Johnson Art Museum, designed by I. M. Pei.
    Image: Program of Computer Graphics

     

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