“Enscape gives you the advantage of spending more time designing and exploring.”
Connor Gatzke | Architectural Student | Iowa State U
I’m a second-generation Revit user. I grew up around Revit for as long as I can remember. My dad is architect Mike Gatzke – a well known early Revit adopter and architectural instructor. My earliest memories are of my dad using Revit around 2004 to design our house. At the time I was only nine years old and Revit was way over my head. I was just intrigued by its use as a medium for ideas from the head to be generated and constructed into something that can be experienced in physical reality. Like a lot of kids my age interested in 3D, my earliest design interest came from drawing, SketchUp and Minecraft.
When I was a senior in high school I decided to take some design classes. We started out using Chief Architect, which in my opinion was a total waste of time. It didn’t get interesting until we started learning how to use AutoCAD and Revit. And of course I had the advantage of being able to ask my dad technical questions! I ended up using Revit to enter an affordable housing competition during my senior year and the final project turned out really well. Becoming a finalist in the competition was a big confidence booster for me.
When it was time for college my dad really wanted to make sure I was aware of the facts of architecture school and the profession: long hours, late nights and other economic realities. My initial visits to Iowa State were spent checking out the engineering program. I didn’t have as much of a passion for engineering but I had a knack for math and knew it would be better pay. My final visit was checking out the design programs there and architecture just seemed like the perfect fit.
My freshman year I did design work which I had to put together into a portfolio to apply into the very competitive architecture program at ISU. Getting the acceptance letter into the program is one of my favorite memories. I’m 21 years old and will be starting my fourth year of college (third year of architecture school) this fall at Iowa State. I plan on finishing my fifth year and then getting my masters degree.
The studio professor I had my first semester in the program preferred everything be hand drafted. It definitely took much longer. I found that kind of frustrating– using the computer isn’t cheating. If anything using 3D makes the design process harder because you quickly become accountable for the entire design rather than isolated plans, sections and elevations. I really wish my early studio professors let us embrace Revit sooner.
The second year of architectural school I was using Revit on a regular basis. Rather than make the design process easier, Revit simply gives you more time to improve your design earlier. At that point, professors pretty much wanted images to be printed out rather than displayed on screen. So I’d export from Revit and put trace paper over the images. Then my professor and I could sit down and draw overtop those images, “redlining” any necessary design modifications. It was a strange kind of hybrid digital process that often impeded my design development.
I only learned about Enscape at the start of last semester. My dad had forwarded me a link to an article he thought I would find interesting. Needless to say, I did. I started using Enscape right away. There really wasn’t any learning curve since you’re actually doing everything in Revit and simply exploring in Enscape. My competition partner was also much more happy to use Enscape rather than having to learn another rendering tool. As a result, we were fortunate enough to entirely bypass the process of “click and wait” to render in Revit. This gave us an advantage of spending more time designing and exploring. Our project turned out much better because of Enscape.
For anyone that’s been to architectural school, you know it’s a pretty competitive environment. As a result, we kept Enscape very close to the chest. It was kind of our secret weapon. Students not using Revit envied the ease of rendering we had with Enscape. Enscape allowed us to explore the project from any direction and make adjustments while immediately seeing the results in a high quality and real-time rendered model.
When another student was using Max, SketchUp or Rhino, they were constantly jumping between different applications to get things done. Getting renderings out of any of those tools was a painful process that required a lot of time and patience – something in short supply during architecture school.
I recall once hearing a professor admonish their students, “Do a rendering every night before you go to sleep – and then it’ll be done when you wake up”. In other words, you are pretty much a sitting duck for 8+ hours while your computer puts all of its power into generating a single still image.
As Caleb and I were working on our spring design competition, we weren’t having any of that. Other students would start rendering days before the deadline. They still had post production to do in a Photoshop! As final review day approached, other students would ask, “When are you going to start doing your renderings?” We just kept refining the design and quietly reviewed the results in Enscape.
We owe the success of our final project to being able to review the project and make changes in a live, fully rendered view. Our professors were really interested in our working process. We’d walk through the design with them in Enscape in realtime and show options to them during a live review. Our professors really loved the ability to resolve issues in the moment and at a far higher level of detail and feedback.
If there were more extensive changes that had to be made, we could quickly and painlessly screenshot the Enscape image and print it off for him to draw on top of. The whole process took less than a minute. Good luck doing that with another rendering program!
When it was finally time to export our final images, Enscape really pulled through. Our final presentation board size was 44″ x 14′. On it, we had a 6k render from Enscape which was 2′ x 4′. We were able to save the image from Enscape in under five minutes. If you’re using Revit, it only makes sense to use Enscape.
Glad to chat and looking forward to using Enscape on my design projects next year. I’ll keep uploading images to my online portfolio. Please check in from time to time!