Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Finalizing the NYC Net Zero Public Housing Project

Finalizing the NYC Net Zero Public Housing Project

After a month of working on the NYC Net Zero Public Housing as a part of my 30x30 architecture goal, I’ve met my deadline and finalized the project. Picking up from where I left off last week, I refined my Revit model of the project, added materials and entourage, and went through several iterations of draft renderings for each perspective. Here’s a brief overview of how I developed the project’s graphics.

Iterative Rendering Process

To give you some insight into how I develop my renderings, I’ll use my rendering for the 2 bedroom apartment with a perspective of the living room and kitchen island as an example. For this particular view, my goal was to capture the large living room/kitchen space, the sunroom, and the balcony. So I placed a camera at the entrance of the apartment and used a wide angle perspective to capture a majority of the spaces.

Then, I went through every object in the scene and applied simple materials using the material library that comes with Revit. The library contains a variety of materials that area seamless and easy to apply to objects. With the exception of the smooth polished concrete floor and countertop, all of the materials came from the Revit material library.

After applying materials to the objects, I set my sun settings to the spring equinox on March 21st, set the time to the early afternoon, adjusted the render quality to best, and the sun settings to interior with artificial lighting. Once everything was set, I ran a test render of the space to see if any materials needed to be refined or changed.

As I reviewed this first draft rendering, I found several issues with the color schemes and materials of specific objects in the view. First, the French doors that lead to the sunroom were rendering as full glass doors, but the frame should be black painted metal. Second, the blue rug at the center of the space contrasts too much with the remainder of the scene, so it becomes the focus of the render. Third, the fabric on the sofa and dining chairs need to change to a new color to contrast with the remainder of the scene. Fourth, the concrete texture on the floor and countertop needs to be larger. Lastly, the half-height wall on the side of the kitchen island should be concrete as a waterfall edge.

I also decided to add plates and silverware to the kitchen island and slightly crop the view to minimize the amount of distortion from the wide angle lens. Once these changes were made, it was time to run another draft render.

Looking at the second rendering, I could see that the materials and furniture placement were closer to being finalized. However, there were some additional material changes that needed to occur. First, the dark blue fabric on the area rug needed to be updated to the same light grey as the fabric on the perimeter of the rug. Second, the blue leather covering on the furniture should be updated to a lighter colored fabric. Third, the doors of the entertainment center was rendering as white paint and needed to be updated to the dark colored wood. Lastly, the concrete floor needed reflections to make it appear as polished concrete.

In addition to the changes above, I decided to model books in the bookcase, add a coffee table, add a side table, add a floor lamp, add a table lamp, and add picture frames to some of the walls. Then, it was time to get another draft render.

This third iteration of the 2 bedroom apartment interior rendering was very close to being a finalized rendering. However, there were two minor changes that needed to take place. First, I thought that the orange and yellow books in the bookcase were too bright and needed to be changed to darker colors. Second, the area rug needed to be enlarged so that both sofas were resting on the edge. So I made these simple changes and ran the final render at a higher quality.

Post Processing the Renderings

After generating the final rendering from Revit at a higher resolution and quality, my next step is to bring the rendering(s) into Adobe Photoshop, add a background, additional entourage, and brighten and/or contrast the image.

For the 2 bedroom interior perspective, I started by adjusting the tones, color, and levels of the base rendering to add depth to the perspective. Although the difference is very subtle, you can see that the shadows are darker, the bright areas of the room are lighter, and the fabric on the sofa and chairs have more contrasting light and dark areas.

Then, I added the background scene, which is a photograph that a good friend of mine in New York City took of the Fashion Institute of Technology. The college is located directly across the street and the photograph required a little perspective correction to make it appear to be taken from a higher level in the NYC Net Zero Public Housing project.

2 Bedroom Interior Post Processed 03

After the background was set in place, the next step was to add entourage to the scene. For this particular view, I added people who looked like they were at home to the living room and adjusted the shadows on their body as well as their shadow projection on the floor and sofa. I also added vegetation to the planter box in the sunroom and an image on the television screen to make it look like the man was watching something. This brought the render closer to the final rendition.

As the last step to any rendering that I work on, I duplicate all of my layers and merge them. Then, I bring the merged layer into a plugin called “Adjust” by Topaz Labs for Photoshop. This plugin allows you to add filters to your image, similar to adding filters on your phone in Instagram, and it comes with a variety of preset filters. For this particular render, I used a filter called “Clarity”, which brought out the details of the fabric and concrete textures in the scene.



After bringing all of the renderings for the NYC Net Zero Public Housing project through this project, I developed a few diagrams, floor plans, and section to complete the project. Although a month sounds like a short time frame to develop a project of this size, I found that having a schedule and clear deadline helped me work more efficiently and regularly. Although I had my fair share of days when I couldn’t get myself to focus on this project, I was able to spend at least 3 very productive evenings out of every week on this project.

Now, it’s time to work on the next project!


P.S.: If you’re looking for Topaz Labs Adjust, which is the plugin for Photoshop that I mentioned above, you can find it by clicking here. I love their software and thus, I’m an affiliate for their company. If you choose to purchase the plugin using the link that I’ve provided, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Although I would appreciate it if you used the link that I’ve provided, feel free to search for them on Google and purchase their software there!

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