Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Restoring Duluth’s Lincoln Park – Designing Site Features with Enscape

I have been looking forward to writing this post for several months now. Often, when working on a project and doing exciting things in terms of design or use of technology, we cannot publicly talk about it. Now that this work effort is well known locally, I have the opportunity to share an interesting use of cutting-edge technology LHB's Landscape Architecture and Planning group evaluated on a large park restoration project.

Keep reading to learn more...

Project Background

Project Type: Masterplanning, Park Design and Construction Documents

Client: City of Duluth Parks and Recreation Property Services

Situated along Miller Creek, historic Lincoln Park is one of Duluth’s oldest and beloved City parks. The park has experienced continual flooding with many areas of aging park infrastructure that has been damaged and/or is in need of repair.

The City has secured over $1.8 million for park and infrastructure improvements, including a National Park Service grant. LHB is in the process of developing construction documents for site restoration and improvements to be constructed in 2019.

For more detailed information:

Real-time Rendering for Landscape Architects

While working on this project, I wanted to see if we could leverage the real-time rendering software, Enscape, we had been using on building projects with great success. This specific effort was not a deliverable, but more of a research and development project. So, keep in mind the 3D model is not really fine tuned in several areas, including vegetation/planting and some existing historic stone walls.

But the result is still very compelling and will help inform future use of this technology to deliver high quality still images (which we have already done, since this, on another project,) videos and even virtual reality (VR) experiences all from a single model. We can also export this model to an EXE file so someone with a decent computer (and graphic card)  can move throughout the model, freely going where ever they wish.

This first image, below, shows the results achieved using this technology. Notice the quality of people presented in the scene as well as their accurate scale and shadows. Also observe the grass, represented by individual 3D blades, which receive light, casts shadows and vary in color. BTW, the angle of the sun and shadows are accurate for the park's location on Earth, true North, month, day and time.

But, what is not readily apparent in this static image is the ability to navigate this 3D model in real-time at nearly this same quality. The YouTube video embedded below gives you a sense of this, and highlights the fact that the people are full 3D models.

Since we can navigate the 3D model at this high quality of photo-realism, it is easy to "snap" a ton of "photos". Here is an aerial shot of the existing stone pavilion and proposed adjacent playground.

Our real-time visualization software, Enscape, has many camera-like settings which give us the ability to produce some interesting images. Notice the differences in the collage below; focal length, time of day and even some fog to bring out the rays of sunlight. Click to enlarge image.

Each of the 3D surfaces have high quality textures applied, which are raster images (jpg and png files) of a material; e.g. sand, metal, plastic, etc. We also have access to high quality entourage, i.e. people, trees and vehicles, to populate the model. Some are provided with the Enscape software and others come from a content specialist; ArchVision.

Here is a beautiful scene depicting a family hanging out in the grass alongside a path.

Another view of the existing stone pavilion from the back. Notice the person on the bike is the same person, viewed from a different angle, in one of the first images above.

A few more images created from our virtual model...

One of the park's defining features are the historic stone retaining walls that line both sides of Miller Creek. Here, we were able to create the ledge rock along the creek by using a texture, i.e. image/photograph, of stone taken at the park.

In summary, here is a comparison between one of our 3D modeling programs, Autodesk Revit, and the Enscape produced graphic. One significant point here, is that all the work is done in the Revit model and Enscape just presents those efforts. Thus, we are not making changes in multiple programs to create a model, static images, videos, google cardboard and virtual reality scenes. Quite a difference!

Speaking of video, here is a 3+ minute 4k video created in just a couple hours; that includes defining the complex path for the camera to follow and processing the MP4 video file.

Modeling a Historic Stone Building

Previously, I wrote a short post on modeling the existing stone pavilion. That was more of a how-to on the textures applied within Revit.

Click here to read that article: Modeling a Historic Stone Building

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  1. impressive work Dan! curious to know how you created the topo as well! Did you have the site elevation surveyed?

  2. One of our survey crews did a formal survey of the property.


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