This was a fascinating project for a freind and neighhbor, Mike Sands, who is the environmental team leader for Prairie Crossing, the community where I live in Grayslake, Illinois. Mike contracted me to help him create some visuals for an exciting project that he had come up with-the conversion of a long unused industrial space in Virginia to a modern hydroponic and aquaponic facility. The building had originally been a garment facility before the industry had shifted, first to the south, and then overseas. Having been vacant, and not maintained, for a considerable time, the ceiling over the largest open space of the facility had collapsed.
Needless to say, the owner was having considerable trouble leasing even the sound portions of the building due to the terrible looking condition of this front space. Mike, who’s has a PHD in animal science and international agriculture, pitched a novel solution to the owner-turn the problem of the now-open roof into an asset by covering the facility with the same sort of inflated poly structure that is used for greenhouses, and make use of the transmitted light to illuminate a hydroponic and aquaponic facility and, in at the same time, transforming the space aesthetically from an tenant-repelling eyesore to an exciting, modern, green-technology operation.
Mike approached me for help illustrating the concept and to help produce compelling materials that he could use to inspire funding partners to join his venture. We had a couple of sit-downs, and discussed the specifics of what he wanted conveyed in the story telling. Mike provided me with photos, satellite imagery of the site, field measurement from the space, a preliminary plan with the placement of the major components, and web grabs illustrating the feel of the type of environment that he was looking to create.
As my preference, as a designer primarily concerned with architectural scale spaces, is to accurately reflect the ergonomics of the space, I decided that the best course was to create an accurate 3D model of the building and construct the interior of the facility in real scale. My feeling was that the investment of time, in addition to satisfying Mike’s initial need for exciting visuals for fundraising, would provide a ready, accurate structure, over which I could help him in his next step of designing the actual facility systems after he had succeeded in raising the funding. As a dyed-in-the-wool shop rat, builder and tinkerer, I find the idea of hardware store-tech plumbing structures, water beds, and light control structures very exciting. Based on Mikes initial designs, I worked up a viable plan with appropriate ergonomics, lofted the structure up in Sketchup including cross-sectional views of the proposed ceiling structure, a pivotal element in the concept. After exporting images from the best (in my opinion) views, and designing some exciting interior graphics for the visualization, I and build some concise, crisp presentation plates that I felt would reflect Mike’s vision in a powerful way. The picture that I wanted to paint was a bright, sun-lit, thriving enterprise that would be a no-brainer decision for an investor assessing the viability a venture to support. Mike, graciously, granted me permission to share the finished package on my blog. Here is the resulting presentation, starting with a birds-eye view of the revitalized facility and exploring the various layers within the concept. Click on the images to see close-ups-
I love jobs like this-so well conceive the they sell themselves and I’m looking forward to participating the the next steps