Staff Spotlight: Ian Anderson, Visualization Specialist


A leader in the use of visualization tools, Curtis Miner Architecture (CMA) is continually exploring new tools and technologies to facilitate the ability of our clients to visualize, interact with, and understand their buildings and spaces.

Over the years, CAD applications have evolved to serve the needs of our architectural community and clients. CAD software has better tools for modeling and rendering, storing BIM information, and designing infrastructure. The challenge comes when it’s time to present the design to a client or investor. Renderings, cost estimates, plans and elevations, site plans, and technical specifications get lost in all these separate visuals and documents. This is where real-time rendering comes in.

One Platform: Bringing it All Together

Arch Viz (short for architectural visualization) is a tool CMA visualization specialist Ian Anderson uses to help deliver all these items and more to the client. “The use of Arch Viz helps the project team review the design and all its accompanying information on a single platform,” he explains. “We can explore, collaborate, and review at a level never before possible.” Arch Viz not only minimizes surprises and costly design changes for the client, but it also provides peace of mind.

Adding the Details

The concepts can come to Ian in a variety of forms—including sketches, CAD drawings, PDFs, SketchUp models, or even a random photo from the internet. Typically, after the schematic design phase ends, he begins modeling a project virtually using 3D modeling software (Autodesk Revit) to develop the look and feel of the building. This model can be used as is for simplified visualization, but Ian finds it often lacks materials and entourage (meaning things like people, plants, and cars). He uses a variety of powerful and complicated software programs to provide scale and give the scene life.

Exploring the Design

And just as the concepts can come to him in various forms, what Ian shares with the client can vary too. He can generate a 2D rendering, physical 3D models, an animation, or a space to be explored in virtual reality (VR). “All projects benefit from some form of visualizations,” Ian explains. “Being able to look at a 2D line drawing and envision what it will look like as a 3D form in your mind isn’t a universal skill all people possess, so having a rendering to aid in that communication is always helpful.”

What You See is What You Get

With eight years of experience, Ian has seen exciting advances in rendering applications. Before he joined the firm in 2015, CMA typically outsourced the work. Now Ian works collaboratively with architects and designers to bring photorealistic imagery and technical information to a single platform so clients can fully explore and review design.

Producing the visualizations for a high-end clubhouse in Bluffdale was a particularly fun and rewarding assignment for Ian. The Rockpoint Apartments are designed for luxury and the clubhouse’s modern design pushed Ian’s creative and technical skills. “I had to be very detailed in how I modeled the building and entourage,” he describes. “I custom-modeled most of the furniture to match the actual furniture that was planned to populate the completed project. I felt a sense of pride when we compared the rendered interiors with the finished product.”

As a member of CMA’s Visualization Committee, he works to improve the firm’s visualization capabilities. “We’re always looking for new tools and techniques for better, faster architectural visualization.”