Architects presenting their work today can choose from myriad tools to give clients the most realistic representation of a designed space. Technologies like 3-D rendering software, 3-D printed models, and VR walkthroughs represent significant advances since the days of sketching by hand–and have drastically changed the ways architects work.
For a look at how far 3-D rendering technology has come, dive into this recently restored 16mm film created by the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1984.
Spare, wire-frame models and dated 3-D graphics swooping into view give the video a certain nostalgia-tinged charm, but in 1984 this was very advanced technology. Most impressively? The firm wrote its own software.
Leave it up to SOM–the architecture firm behind some America’s largest and most recognizable skyscrapers–to be on the cutting edge of 3-D rendering technology. “When you think that the Death Star image in the rebel ship presentation in Star Wars ‘Return of the Jedi’ was filmed in 1983, this piece by one of the world’s most accomplished architecture firms is remarkable,” SOM illustrator Peter Little writes in the video description. The video serves as a virtual tour through various U.S. cities, highlighting the buildings designed by the firm (which in Chicago’s case, is basically half of the skyline).