top of page

Keys to Graphic Communication // Kyle Hotz


Everyone understands the appeal of architectural renderings, especially when an idea is being sold to a client. On the other hand, many people experience the difficulties of visualizing projects from two dimensional construction documents. Yet, most clients are unaware that the construction document phase consumes the highest percentage of the fees on a project atypically thirty-five to forty-five percent according to the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada. Many clients do not understand the importance of these documents. It can be hard to visualize objects through these documents. Without them, however, the project is unbuildable. The drawing set is very important since it is used as a reference by all contractors and is necessary inreceiving state permits.


The purpose of renderings in most cases is to secure funding, sell a project to buyers, and receive public approval. Architectural renderings can be misleading to clients when rushed or not given proper attention to details. Architects have many tools at their disposal, but most important is communication. From working with Design+Make, we have learned the importance of communication from not only trying to pitch our designs, but in overall presentation boards and construction documents. The key to graphic communication is creating a relationship between the renderings and the construction documents.

NYC Waterfalls, courtesy of Olafur Eliasson, Waterfall Rendering (left) and photograph  (right)

One way to connect the two is through Building Information Modeling or BIM. BIM has allowed for rapid visualization, integrated project delivery, and better communication. In addition, the process of documentation can begin much sooner allowing for faster output. While the methods of computer generated renderings are impossible to replicate by hand, the project becomes more about the perfect image than the overall concept. This is especially true in academic presentations where renderings have become the make or break of the project. Students can spend up to 70 percent of their time on perfecting a rendering. To the contrary, professional practice places less focus on the creation of renderings because of the cost of production. Yet, it is still critical to assure that the building forms and the impression of the building are properly conveyed to the client. Architectural education should place more emphasis on other aspects of design including concept, structure, and integration of construction documents.

NHS Building, Image courtesy of PAAstudio, Pacific Palisades, CA

There is a place for architectural renderings, but the focus has become too inflated. From my observations, students are coming out of school not acquiring the necessary knowledge to understand the details of design such as typical building components and basic structures. With Kansas State’s Design+Make studio, we have begun to connect the academia to the professional world. El Dorado has presented us with real-world constraints that have begun to shape how we think by concentrating on budgets, prototyping, and clients. In our studio, we seem to have become a rare breed discussing microscopic details like felt textures, pricing, and organizing shipments of supplies. We have really begun to explore what it takes to instill design excellence, and I believe communication is at the heart of it. By acquiring this knowledge, it makes agraduate a more valuable asset to a firm and its clients.

Written by Kyle Holtz

bottom of page