ARCHITECT BRUCE GOFF’S
CHAPEL IN STATE OF THE ART
By Nancy Condit
To the serenely swelling usic of Dvorak’s Symphony 9, Movement 2, the 3 minute 24 second animated film flies over the three-sided pyramidal apex of Bruce Goff’s 1949 design for a chapel rising to the sky on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman, Oklahoma. This animation is anything but Disney in its three-dimensional virtual reality rendering.The animation by Skyline Ink Studios, Oklahoma City, is shown on a three panel screen approximately 42 feet by 9 feet, each panel being approximately 14 feet by 9 feet per panel, is current state of the art in animated renderings for architects, says Lu Eyerman, director of communications, Skyline Ink.
Bruce Goff was regarded as “one of 20th century’s most internationally respected architects,” and the exhibit celebrates “the innovative spirit of an amazing architect who is still impacting architecture worldwide,” wrote Ghislain d’Humieres, Wylodean and Bill Saxon Director of the FJJMA in the press release. Goff is celebrated internationally for his innovative design, nontraditional choice of materials and creative ingenuity. D’Humieres is co-curator of the exhibit with Scott W. Perkins, curator of collections and exhibitions at the
in Price Tower Arts Center . Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Goff’s works in copies of drawings, renderings or blueprints of selected projects, models and original paintings, with Skyline Ink’s animated renderings, form the center of the current Bruce Goff: A Creative Mind exhibit paying tribute to Goff (1904 – 1983), who was also chair of the architecture school at OU. The exhibit ran at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at OU through
January 8, 2011. After that, it moved to in Price Tower Arts Center , which is owned by Joe Price, who was Goff’s biggest patron. It shows there Bartlesville, Oklahoma January 21, 2011 through May 1, 2011.
| Still shot from Bruce Goff’s Garvey House, courtesy the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Skyline Ink Animation Studios, the Art Institute of Chicago.|
Digital Rendering of Shin'enKan Museum taken from the animated film in the Fred Jones Museum tribute to architect Bruce Goff (1904 - 1982) - Snow accents the lines of this 1978 design for an unspecified location. An adapted version of the design was later built as the Pavilion for Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Provided by Skyline Ink
“Architectural visualization is animation that’s dedicated to architecture and the built environment,” said Brian Eyerman, president, Skyline Ink, and an OU architecture alumnus, in an interview on
November 23, 2010. “Visualization takes the 2D renderings and puts them in a computer to build and explore the 3D form. Modeling, studying and exploring a building in 3D, using 2D pictures for some clients, up to full animation for others.
“Through the visualization process is where decisions are made, such as aesthetics, colors, even changes to the form overall, such as architectural intent. The reason why architectural visualization studios are separate from architectural firms is that it’s a complicated, expensive process to keep the technical side up and running. The expensive part is the changing software.”
The pink-hued chapel, which was never built, was designed to be made of double sheets of plastic with pink batt in between, said Brian Eyerman, giving the chapel its pink color. The roof over the sanctuary is constructed of diamond shapes, with large triangular supporting pillars of construction material. The chairs in the chapel, as the camera shows the sanctuary from the back to the front, finally revealing the chairs, have hexagonal backs and seats. In the center of the sanctuary floor is a Plexiglas hexagon, which also happens to be directly over the underground minister’s office.
Still shot from Bruce Goff's Crystal Chapel,
courtesy the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Skyline Ink Animation Studios, the Art Institute of Chicago
Seen from the inside, the walls are transparent. The corridors are revealed by the moving camera.
Outside, Skyline Ink shows nature, one of Goff’s trademarks, in great detail – down to trees, grass, flowers, cattails, iris and water ponds. Even the flowers are individual, and lily pads, with a frog in the animation for another building, are on one pond. The chapel’s two spires and steeple rise against a blue sky. In other films in the exhibit, the homes are pictured in rain, the Bavinger house – which still stands in
and is open to the public – is in a lightning storm, and the Shin’enKan Museum, which is now the Pavilion for Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is shown in the snow. Norman
To see the Crystal Chapel film and one of his houses, go to yourtube.com, and request "Bruce Goff: A Creative Mind." You may also follow the link below. All links are full size youtube.com offerings.
This is the centerpiece of the multi-media exhibit, which includes three 60 inch plasma screen screens for animated films of other Goff projects, including the breath-taking, both from an architectural and animated point of view, curved Perez beach House in Caracas, Venezuela, with each higher story sitting further out over the beach, looking poised to sail over the ocean.
The exhibit also includes models, which are reproductions, Goff’s renderings, which are reproductions, and some of Goff’s paintings.
was kind enough to provide ereview.org with one of the first video CD’s of the daylong symposia held on campus Saturday, October 9, the exhibit’s opening weekend. Fred Jones Jr. Museum
Following is a combination of Eyreman’s talk at the Goff symposia, interlaced with an interview done on
November 23, 2010, which is indicated by quotation marks. Any further questions of how they did the films may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eyerman is also available for education purposes. “We really like people who want to know how the process works to come to the studio and we’ll show them around – a full educational program in an hour and a half or two. It’s definitely a career choice – the process of animating or the subset of architectural visualization.”
I had done several other small animations, so this was a dream come true. I was drawn by the drawings of Goff when I was a student.
Where did you see the drawings?
“They were hanging in the basement of the library. I was interested in them before I knew what they were. They were very colorful, all kinds of geometry, very fluid. Later I found out that from my professors that they were Goff’s.”
Are you an architect?
I graduated from OU architecture school in 1999, “but, by the time I was ready to take my second state exam for my architect’s license, I was so drawn into the world of architectural visualization and art that I couldn’t see myself going down the traditional path for architecture.” I started an animation studio in 2002, primarily in architectural animation. I always hoped to do something like this exhibit, so when the opportunity arose, I jumped at it.
How did you become involved in the program?
“OU contacted us and asked us if we’d be interested in doing the project. They had mentioned that
( Price Tower ) was involved. They came down and brought drawings of the buildings that we needed – the curators came up with a list of buildings based on building types. Price had enough copies of drawings to do two of the buildings we needed.” Arts Center
“For our needs – so that we could post them on a wall, use architectural scales on them -- photocopies or digital scans were what we needed. It’s actually easier to do this on the computer for our needs. Fragility was part of the problem. We (also) went to the Art Institute of Chicago to pick out the remaining ten projects.”
How did you know what existed in documents and magazines -- what to look for?
“The Art Institute had a catalogue from descriptions of what they had. Their collection is inventoried – and some of it is so vague that we have to mark it that we need to see it in order to know what it is.” (What is involved in this type of research is) “seeing absolutely everything.”
His wife Lu Eyereman said in an interview on
November 18, 2010, “I worked with him digging through some of the documents in research and logistics. Most of what we used and needed was at the Art Institute of Chicago. We had a list of what was needed, and got a target list of buildings we might want to look at from the . We work with architects. We know what to look for.” Fred Jones Museum
The Crystal Chapel (designed to be in
) is the first building we talked about. Norman, Oklahoma
(He showed the animation, which can be seen by going to youtube.com, entering “Bruce Goff: A Creative Mind” and requesting “Bruce Goff’s Crystal Chapel.” All links are full size youtube.com offerings.)
The process (of making this film) required a number of components: research to go down and see what drawings were available for the Crystal Cathedral. What I was looking for were plans and elevations to tell how tall things are, how components should be within the building, and texture and color. In the case of the Crystal Cathedral, there were no elevations.
So, we did other research from written documents – in magazines (articles) said exactly how tall the tower was, and that’s the thing that really made the project possible. The number one thing it told was how tall the building was, and that made the difference between whether or not we could do the building.
The project would have been on Elm a few blocks from the Fred Jones. It would have been very prominent.”
The drawing wasn’t specific, so we couldn’t go inside the annex (housing rooms like the fellowship hall, and the minister’s office, which was right under the Plexiglas hexagon in the sanctuary floor).
Here’s (he showed a slide) the interior perspective that gave us the information on doing the crystals that hang down inside the chapel.
(We found a) beautiful rendering from which we were able to figure out the color, the details on the perimeter glass, and we used a standard rule of thumb to figure out how the chairs worked, and for the chairs and the stairs – “you can figure out how tall certain components are based on those measurements.”
And, finally, the photographs of the original model helped us tremendously. This model is just amazing. Of course, we have (a replica) in the exhibit. This really told us a lot about how the ponds worked, about where the vegetation was located, the trees, the foliage, about how the geometry worked on the exterior. Again, without this, this would have been very difficult. (Eyreman showed 10-12 photos of the model.)
What we do is take this information and bring it into a CAD program, like AutoCAD, and we just start tracing. This building has to be digitalized in order to get into the modeling format, so it’s just a process of bringing it in as an underlay and you start tracing.
It takes probably six to eight hours to go through and put one of these buildings into CAD, but the more work you put in at the beginning, the better the ultimate outcome is. The nice thing is, should this building ever be built, there’s the beginning of CAD drawings.
3D wireframe view of the Crystal Chapel, courtesy of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Skyline Ink Animation Studios, the Art Institute of Chicago
This is how we look at CAD drawings. This is the wire frame. You can rotate it around.
We look at the model with this wire frame. Basically we’re just dealing with surfaces. This is all in the 3D environment. You can rotate this building around and look at it from any side, but as you add and model you define surfaces. This is how we work with it.
This is all basically to full scale. You can measure this model and it’s all to correct height. It becomes a process of defining the geometry that makes up the building.
With this particular building it was actually fairly simple because it mirrors three times over on 120 degree angles so you only have to model one-sixth of the building and then mirror that over in order to come up with the complete chapel.
The shaded model is what it looks like when we start defining materials. When we start applying materials, we basically start applying real world photographs – we start applying photographs of grass for the under lays, for the water, concrete. It’s all just taken from the real world and applied to the scene.
This is an interior view of the wire frame. You can see the crystals hanging down and all the seating, and there it is in shaded mode. This is what it looks like just before we render the animation that you just saw.
In this exterior we can see the tree line back there. You can see those in the animation, but it’s organized in such a way that you can’t really tell how well detailed those trees are.
A big component of visualization is basically our library of trees and shrubs and grass that we created to apply to the scene. (The slide shows long rows of trees, ground and grass lined up like kids’ games from the ‘60’s, or set aside for model railroads.)
Once you create your library of components, you basically just scatter them around in plugs 18” in diameter and try to match the site plan that you have. This is actually kind of fun.
Another tool that we used is a preliminary cost estimate for the building we found in
. $3,001 was the cost estimate, so that was a pretty good deal. Chicago
These magazine articles are another tool that appeared no where else. (They laid) out certain details that we absolutely had to have. As you can see in this drawing, there would have been no way for me to figure out what the section was of the steel without this, and this was in no other publication but in this (seen on a slide) magazine article.
There was a section of aluminum framing for the building and it also calls out exactly how those glass panels work – two layers of glass with pink batt insulation inside those sandwich pieces of glass and that’s what gives it that pink effect on the interior. And these are just a few renderings (illustrations) taking all that information and putting it together into a completed project, after which we become film makers, and really just work with the environment as if we’re creating a movie.
The music aspect (of the films), which has always been important to us in our work, was an opportunity to explore music with architecture and come up with that combination to create a beautiful environment.
(Goff had an 8,000 record library in his studio. The music played in the Crystal Chapel and other films in the exhibit “was inspired by Goff,” said Eyereman in the interview.)
The grass you see in the scene (rendering) is actually all modeled.
Some statistics -- There are actually ten billion blades of grass that have been modeled.
The trees – this was surprising in terms of early 2000 storage. It would take 10,000 3 ½” floppy discs to hold just one of those trees, and some scenes have hundreds – just a tremendous amount of data.
I think, overall, we ended up with maybe two or three terabytes of data, and once we take all of that, compile it into the animation, it all boils down into maybe four or five gigabytes of animation.
It’s pretty amazing to go from two terabytes of data to five gigabytes of animation
Here’s an interior view – (looking up into the tower or steeple). Basically the lighting software used, V-Ray, is physically accurate with these programs’ parameters. The software is 3D Studio Max, the rendering package is called V-Ray, and then there is lots of Photoshop and after effects, and Adobe Premiere for editing.
What programs were used for after effects?
“Compositing: Adobe After Effects. In compositing, we don’t just render out a complete package, it’s rendered out into layers, like the sky is on a completely different layer than a building. What After Effects does is to help us compile all of the layers into a final image.”
How do people who would like more details contact you?
I do want to acknowledge the artists who worked on this. They spent tremendous hours. Everyone slept on the floor and the couch and the bed. The five are Andy Simon, Scott Harban, Marty Law, Michael Ward and Jeremy Glenn… I forgot my wife Lu. I’m in so much trouble…
- Skyline Ink Animation Studios donated more than 2500 hours of production time to create 3D computer models and photorealistic animation of 12 Bruce Goff designs. Photographed by Stephen Chaffin