Frank Lloyd Wright designed some of the world’smost celebrated buildings, but even they, in some cases, fall victim to the ravages of time, neglect, and disaster. Buffalo, New York’s Larkin Administration Building, one of the architects most renowned creations, was razed in 1950. The Rose Pauson House, an organic desert getaway in Phoenix, Arizona, burned down one year after Wright completed it in 1942.
But they’ve recently risen again. Not in drawings or photographs, but a series of hyperrealistic renderings painstakingly crafted by Spanish architect David Romero. 3D tools serve for precisely this reason—to be able to see that which does not exist, he says
Romeroused a powerful combination of Autocad, 3dsMax, Vray, PhotoShop and a long list of plug-ins to create the images.Hismodels nail the lighting, exude just enough depth, and displaythe perfect amount of rawness and texture—a welcome departure from thecustomary sheen in marketing visualizations. For research he combed Wright books and web sites, and collectedvaluable feedback from theFrank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and its onlineforums.
The results lookexquisite. Romero’sversion of Larkins 5-story, red-brick and pink-mortar facade jumps out at you in three dimensions, its strong lines, layered masses, and intricate friezes standing in modern contrast to theold-fashionedautomobile and cobblestone streets below it. Inside, natural light floods through its blond, glass-topped atrium. Its impossible not to marvelat Wrights geometric furniture, light fixtures, and detailing.
Pauson, in contrast, is the ultimate embodiment of its desert surroundings. Its low-lying field stone and plank wood walls seem to grow from the desert itself; its large vertical windows frame views of the rock-litteredmountains all around. The same materials existinside, where the space feels light, airy, and modern, yet also vaguely cave-like and prehistoric.
Romero also produced a rendering ofWrights unbuilt, spaceship-esque Trinity Chapel in Norman, Oklahoma, and hes working on designsof Wrights abandoned Ocotillo Desert Camp in Scottsdale, Arizona. If he can find enough time away from work as a renderer for a Spanish engineering company, hed like to recreatethe lost workof other Modern architects, like Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe, along with ancient monuments like the temples of Mesopotamia.
Romero says his maingoals are to draw attention to the thousands of exceptional buildings—new and old—under threat today, and to inspire others to reconstruct the past with modern tools. I find it curious that, even with the number of people who today work professionally in the world of architectural visualization, there are very few initiatives like mine, Romero says. Whats missing, he says, is funding.
One such effort, a competition last year called Project Soane, encouraged designersto digitally recreate Sir John Soanes Bank of England, a 19th Century Neoclassical wonder demolishedin the 1920s. (Historians have called its destructionthe greatest architectural crime of the 20th Century.) The contest, conceived by Graham Wyatt, a partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects, attracted more than 80 submissions, many creating stunningly realistic depictions of the building, with itstemple-likedetailing and soaring glass rotunda. Techgiants like HP and Nvidia sponsored. Perhaps there is enough interest—from designers and financial backers, alike—to revive buildings from all over the world.