Everyone knows that innovation is mandatory for the survival of an engineering firm. BIM is fantastic. Lidar usage is now ubiquitous. And if you are buying a drone in 2021, then your firm is behind.
But rarely does the AEC sector evolve the way that we win our projects, inspire our team members, and connect with the communities we work with.
Besides, what good is a showcase project finale if no one knows about it because the only way to demonstrate its success is through a crinkled-up Polaroid that you carry around in your pocket?
What if you could highlight your projects like in this demo reel here?
Design visualization has become something that Pennoni is known for, and the use of our tools internally has promoted the creation of a department that we call Pennoni FX Studios (PFX).
In fact, to win certain poster-child projects like Winter Haven Central Park in Florida, we have beaten creative design shops that would be considered Goliath when compared in the ring.
Our Field Acquisition team is responsible for this work in Florida, which includes highly trained technical staff who conduct high definition laser scanning (HDLS).
HDLS results in a dense, 3D-point cloud that can be used as the basis for developing highly accurate site geometry and topography. The scans are also used as the chassis for developing immersive visualizations.
Pennoni performed HDLS surveying on Central Park in Winter Haven to develop an animation showing the before and after transition of this streetscape and park enhancement project.
The way we engage with local communities is forever changed because of PFX.
Pennoni FX Studios has partnered with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to develop five videos that showcase typical proposed new projects to Delaware stakeholders in a way that will enhance public outreach efforts and inspire community support.
DelDOT will use the animations and videos as a visual aid during public meetings and project outreach campaigns. The visualizations will assist stakeholders and residents to better understand the improvement concepts and will help in answering the age-old question, “Why is this construction taking so long?”
The project, which includes five public outreach videos, is being funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as part of their Every Day Counts (EDC-5) initiatives. These initiatives are aimed at improving communications and finding innovation and efficiencies to accelerate project delivery. Pennoni is developing animations and videos showcasing the replacement of metal pipe culverts with concrete culverts and short span bridges. The videos will also detail bridge deck replacement, including stage-by-stage sequence of events to help inform the public about project complexity.
As part of the campaign series, Pennoni FX Studios’ animation experts brought to life DelDOT’s safety mascot, Wally the Work Zone Warrior, as part of a branded standardized intro for this video series. Inspired by the Disney Pixar movie introduction featuring a lively desk lamp, a friendly Wally waves hello before giving the thumbs up next to a 3D DelDOT logo.
The development of the public outreach videos and 3D animation for Wally was a collaborative effort, engaging PFX staff as well as bridge, H&H, and transportation professionals to accurately depict each stage of construction.
As we approach a the first summer that could have less COVID-19 impact in what feels like YEARS, we might as well keep our examples in Florida.
The City of Miami Beach required a 3D animation of the 63rd Street corridor project from the intersection with N. Bay Road to the intersection with Collins Avenue. The animation focuses primarily on the East-West portion of 63rd Street and depicts existing and proposed conditions. The cinematic animation will serve as a visual aid during key team and stakeholder meetings to demonstrate the proposed concept improvements, as well as showcase the anticipated flow of pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular traffic. The project is being performed by the City of Miami Beach as part of a corridor-wide complete streets initiative to improve safety and user experience for pedestrians and cars alike. The project includes new bus shelters and dedicated bus lanes, as well as buffered bicycle and pedestrian sidewalks.
NE 18th Avenue area has larger, single family residences on the west side of the street and a commercial building and parking area along the east side of the block. We were able to successfully incorporate appropriate parking, curb and sidewalk, and landscaping to soften the view and enhance the residential feel of the west side, while providing bicycle lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians. A collage of different perspectives of the rendered 3D model was developed by PFX for delivery to the client as part of a citywide pavement inventory and enhancement planning initiative. These graphics included views down the proposed improved roadways, overlay of the original aerial imagery, and a snapshot of Google Earth Street View composited with the rendered 3D model as shown.
To attract developers and stimulate growth in the downtown district, the City of North Miami engaged Pennoni to develop conceptual 3D renderings of proposed mixed-use concepts. We developed a complete digital twin of the downtown area to showcase the project in context with the city’s many diverse communities. The renderings highlighted an issue related to potentially tall building casting shadows over the main thoroughfare through the city.
Associate Vice President Joe Spadea, P.E., in our Newark, DE, office, built the team and PFX Studios from the ground up, initially with the help of Steve Lewis from the West Chester, PA, office. Pennoni FX Studios (PFX) visualizations and videos are created and based on engineered data to convey ideas clearly and effectively — not only to the public, but also to our clients and design team partners.
Our visualizations differ from others as we add context to the project by basing them on actual topography or drone footage, Nearmap, and other visual aids to align the project with the geography.
PFX Studios has been extensively marketed internally and externally, which has helped the team innovate, evolve, and remain competitive.
In addition to a variety of projects, the group allows time for incubating new ideas and technology, such as Pennoni Photo360.
Our client retention rate is over 90%. When you give clients the ability to reflect on our work together through design visualization, it absolutely helps the decision to return for more.
How are you and your team highlighting projects? Maybe it is time to evolve.
About the Author Jake Voorhees
Jake is the Marketing Manager at Pennoni Associates, Civil Engineer, YouTuber, HeForSWE Ambassador, TEDx Producer, and Speaker Coach.
He appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” on October 27, 2019, as a Managing Director for the technology startup NERDiT NOW. During his engineering career, Jake has built and managed microsimulation models for three $1B+ engineering infrastructure projects. He runs a YouTube channel for “Empowering Young Engineers,” which today has 80,000 subscribers, 150 episodes, and 30+ industry professional features. Jake is a HeForSWE (Society of Women Engineers) Ambassador, and Co-Chair of the Speaker Committee for the Millennial Summit — the largest conference for Millennials in the USA.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post by guest author Jake Voorhees. If you’re interested in your firm possibly joining the Civil Engineering Collective, please contact us here or call us at 800-920-4007.
I hope you’ll join us.
Anthony Fasano, P.E.
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success