Aspen Group: Revit Is Great For Coordinating; Enscape Is Great For Inspiring
“We were not doing renderings in Revit prior to Enscape. We simply didn’t have time to push the rendering button and wait.”
Dave Wilde | VDC Operations | Aspen Group
I’m a Senior Architect and Virtual Design Manager for the Aspen Group, a 40-person, fully integrated design/build/furnish firm headquartered outside of Chicago, Illinois. Aspen Group started more than a decade ago. We’re exclusively focused on serving the church and ministry market, primarily working with churches in the Midwest and Southeast regions.
I have more than 25 years experience in the architectural profession, and I’ve been using Revit since 2009. At Aspen, we use Revit throughout the project development, and we engage with MEP and Structural partners in Revit as well. We do as much virtual coordination as possible prior to construction.
Churches are incredibly personal spaces that have to adapt to meet a wide variety of uses for multiple generations. Because of our design/build/furnish approach, we have the unique experience and ability to carefully shepherd the building process from concept to completion. Fit, finish, detail, and budget are all Incredibly important to us and our clients.
We take pride in the amount of detail that we put into our Revit projects, including finish products so the client can visualize what the actual materials will look like in their new space. But prior to using Enscape, we weren’t doing renderings in Revit. We simply didn’t have time to push the rendering button and wait.
As a result, we used to outsource rendering of still images, but the turnaround was never fast enough. Additionally, still images don’t fully communicate the design–they’re simply frozen snapshots.
Revit allows for robust coordination, but it lacks in the ability to visually explore designs with the owner. Enscape, however, has solved this problem. We’re using Enscape from early design visualization through high-resolution, finished explorations.
We’re also using Revit to indicate material selection much sooner than we did previously. For our projects, materials and lighting are incredibly strategic. And clearly communicating our design decisions to committees is always a challenge. Enscape helps us visualize designs with actual materials, flooring, and finishes. Clients can ask to see variations within the context of the virtual space, so Enscape helps create a flowing and flexible process.
Most importantly, we’re not spending time learning to use another stand-alone application. What we present to the client in Enscape is simply a byproduct of what we are doing in Revit, rather than a disconnected, separate, or parallel process.
We always design to the budget, and Enscape helps us display materials, finishes, and content so that the client can interact with and respond to actual finish choices, furnishings, colors, and lighting that fall within their budget. Simply being able to adjust the lumen and indirect lighting within landscape when we present designs using Enscape is amazing—quite frankly it blows the clients mind!
When we work with a church, we create a roadmap to help them understand what they can afford. We also have to create a variety of worship environments that can accommodate multiple uses and generations. Communicating all of this design information is incredibly complex, but we’re having a blast using Enscape to help do this.
In the end, you can’t simply show your client pictures. You have to help everyone involved begin to experience the space while pointing out issues that impact fit, finish, and pricing. This is not about rendering—it’s about understanding. It’s about creating a compelling and complete decision-making process that gives the client confidence to move forward.
We’ve understood for a long time that in order to communicate design concepts properly, we need to convey information within context. You can’t show the client a material board and then point to a colored floor plan and expect them to piece it all together in their head. Maybe that was fine 5 years ago, but not anymore. The client may say they understand, but in our experience, they often were picturing something different. These misunderstandings eventually create a lot of stress for everyone involved.
For the first time, Enscape helps us help the client really understand and experience the project before the design is built. In fact, we had a meeting a few weeks ago where we were able to get sign off on 150 decisions in about 3 hours. Not only did Enscape save everyone involved enormous stress, time, and money, but we’re confident that the client really understands what the final product will look like.
To put it another way, Revit is great for coordinating—but Enscape is great at communicating. The client and project team need to explore and experience the space before the design is built. As far as we’re concerned there’s no other way to do this than Enscape.
Our mission at Aspen Group is to create space for ministry impact. Enscape has become an important part of our overall workflow and a key tool for helping us accomplish this. We’re grateful for this incredible technology.