In 2008, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) launched the “Innovation Hotel” website (www.ihgplc.com/innovation), to explore what a thoroughly guest-friendly, high-performance, sustainable hotel might look like in the year 2025. Response to the award-winning site has been extremely positive, providing insightful ideas about the hotel of the future.
To bring some of the hotel concepts a step closer to reality, IHG engaged Arup⎯the celebrated international firm of designers, engineers, and other specialists⎯to help visualize the not-so-distant future of the hotel. In response, the Arup Foresight & Innovation team challenged several architectural and design firms to come up with ideas based on the response to the Innovation Hotel website. After an intensive series of contests over a three-month period, the winners were selected from a large pool of entries.
After selecting the best of the entries, the Arup 3D Media Group used Autodesk® 3ds Max® Design software to realize, visualize, and animate the winning concepts.
“They were definitely terrific ideas,” says Robert Stava, creative director of the 3D Media Group at Arup. “The only problem was that they were largely submitted as hand-drawn sketches, together with a few basic 3D renderings, and didn’t convey the full potential of the concept. After some consultation, we decided to take cues from the sketches and use 3ds Max Design to help turn them into photorealistic images and animations of these advanced hotels.”
To provide a comprehensive impression of the sustainable hotel concepts, Stava and 3D Media Group colleague Anthony Cortez set about creating an exterior of each hotel concept together with a vision of the lobby, and a guestroom and bathroom.
“We began by accessing our 3D asset library for elements,” says Cortez. “We also went online to find a variety of hotel scenes, with appropriate beds, decor, and so on. That provided about a third of the necessary assets. The rest we created using 3ds Max Design. Autodesk 3ds Max Design has the kind of physically accurate lighting information that helped make our visions much more realistic.”
“Autodesk 3ds Max has been the main tool in our toolbox for about eight years,” says Stava. “At this point, we have production down to a science. With the integrated mental ray renderer, we have all the tools we need to achieve realistic daylighting, materials, exposure settings, and more. We also send everything to Autodesk Backburner for network rendering. 3ds Max Design is an out-of-the-box solution that enables us to do our jobs really fast.”
The Arup 3D Media Group created, animated, and delivered eight different concepts to the IHG team, complete with sustainability features. For example, the team transformed a rainwater collection system into an elegant, central feature in the lobby of the hotel. “That has simply never been done before,” says Karin Giefer, senior sustainability consultant to Arup’s Foresight & Innovation team. “The client was ecstatic with the results.”
“The bottom line is that Autodesk 3ds Max Design enabled us to achieve photorealistic results very quickly,” says Stava. “That made our client very happy. You can’t ask for much more than that.”