New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture

The Art Institute of Chicago is widely known for its archival collections in the field of architecture, including thousands of project renderings, sketches, plans, collages, and drawings by such architects as Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier. This rich practice of architectural rendering has been transformed as contemporary architects have turned to computers to give form to their ideas, integrate their projects into existing landscapes, and plan possibly impossible structures. This revolution in architectural imagery was the subject of an issue of the architectural journal CLOG, with whom the Art Institute collaborated to produce New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture, which can be seen now in the Art Institute’s Kurokowa Gallery (Gallery 286) in the Modern Wing.

For its issue devoted to rendering and this subsequent exhibition, CLOG solicited contributions from the architecture community not only for examples of digital renderings but also thoughts and commentary on the consequences and implications of such renderings. Visualizing buildings and structures on the computer opens up an entirely new set of questions within the field of architecture: computers allow architects and designers to work at new levels of realism, accuracy, and even fakery; renderings can be reproduced effortlessly and with great speed; and digital renderings challenge existing copyright protection, models of collection and valuation, and archival procedures.

 The show runs from June 15, 2013 to January 5, 2014, and features 60 images from an international group of architects and design studios – including Zaha Hadid Architects, BIG, Mansilla+Tuñón Architects, and visualhouse – that serve as case studies for the issues that arise from the thriving practice of digital rendering.

The images are presented in four broad categories: Developer Real, Zoom!, Euro Cool, and Critical Collage. The first, Developer Real, features photorealistic views used primarily by real estate developers to present idealized lifestyles to potential buyers. Zoom! images hinge on three-dimensional modelling and are focused more on form than materiality, typified by often stunning abstractions of structures. The renderings grouped as Euro Cool articulate a particular sensibility common among European architects that combines realism with mood or romanticism, with a markedly different effect than Developer Real. Critical Collage images eschew photorealism to highlight specific concepts or critiques within individual projects.

Additionally, as a specific example of the artistry and technical proficiency required to produce architectural visualizations, the Art Institute and CLOG asked Eric de Broche des Combes of the French rendering firm Luxigon to create a new rendered view of the gallery in which the exhibition takes place, also on view here.

New Views explores the leading edge of conversation in the architecture and design field. A unique collaborative project that highlights a contemporary issue currently reshaping the discipline, the exhibition offers provocative images, critical insights, and a sense of the living and constantly evolving practice of architecture.

New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago in conjunction with the architectural journal CLOG. The exhibition is curated by Zoë Ryan, Chair and John H. Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design.

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