Architecture Firm Brings New Structure to Design Workflows With Real-Time Rendering and Virtual Collaboration

With NVIDIA Omniverse and NVIDIA RTX, Kohn Pedersen Fox simultaneously collaborates on designs and delivers interactive design reviews.
by George Matos

When working on future skyscrapers, masterplans or other projects, Kohn Pedersen Fox looks beyond traditional processes.

The global architecture firm aims to find the most creative and optimal design using advanced technologies like generative design, deep learning and immersive visualization. And during design reviews, KPF relies on collaborative sessions so their teams, clients and stakeholders can interact with the proposals and provide real-time feedback.

With over 700 employees spread across cities like New York, London, Singapore, and San Francisco working on different aspects of a project, KPF also needed a way to centralize all the design models in the cloud so users could better coordinate and visualize data more efficiently.

NVIDIA Omniverse, an open platform for 3D collaboration and simulation, is helping KPF enhance these design workflows. By implementing Omniverse, and accelerating it with NVIDIA RTX technology, KPF is looking to unify their teams in one shared virtual environment, enabling them to render high-quality designs and simultaneously collaborate on the same projects.

Bringing Designers Virtually Together in One Place

The designers at KPF work on models in different software applications such as Rhinoceros 3D with Grasshopper, and Autodesk 3ds Max and Revit. The team typically runs visualizations on these apps using local hardware, but this makes it difficult to review the entire project because they can only show what is on a single application at a time rather than a collective, immersive scene.

For KPF, preparing and optimizing a model for advanced real-time performance can be a tedious, time-consuming process, one that can take days to complete. Additionally, its teams must export individual files from other applications into 3ds Max for scene building when rendering large datasets. Now, with Omniverse, the design teams at KPF can better address these challenges.

KPF deployed Omniverse Nucleus from their data center in the U.K. The Enterprise Nucleus Server synchronizes all the data from the different design applications and converts the files to Universal Scene Description format. It acts as a universal asset exchange, letting the teams send only the deltas of project file changes.

The published model datasets, now in USD, are composed in Omniverse Create and visualized in real time using the Omniverse RTX Renderer, allowing the designers to modify models as they work. Using workstations and laptops equipped with NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 GPUs and NVIDIA RTX A3000 GPUs, and advanced workstations powered by NVIDIA Quadro RTX 6000 and NVIDIA RTX A6000, KPF can render high-quality images with the Omniverse RTX Renderer.

Schematic of KPF’s deployment of Omniverse, with multiple users working on RTX-enabled laptops and workstations, and Omniverse Nucleus deployed from their central data center.

NVIDIA Omniverse renders ray-traced and path-traced images in high fidelity and in real time. This allows KPF designers and their clients to view the most photorealistic and physically accurate models possible.

“Omniverse serves as the ‘one source of truth’ since the latest content can be viewed from one application, rather than viewing separate data from different teams,” said Cobus Bothma, director of Applied Research at KPF. “Having the content in one location substantially saves time on the overall project by avoiding exporting large files from every individual application — we simply use Omniverse to push real-time sets of geometries without overloading the file sizes.”

Streaming From the Cloud

Omniverse is also helping KPF explore running design reviews in virtual and augmented reality.

With Omniverse and cloud-based streaming, KPF can experiment with delivering higher fidelity images to any device, whether it’s a scaled-down version or a 1:1 digital model of the property. And by streaming from the cloud, KPF can make alterations in real time through changing variables like sunlight or noise.

“We believe AR has a strong role to play in design experience and decision-making in the future,” said Bothma. “With Omniverse, we’re able to stream Omniverse Create to remote devices, allowing non-RTX devices to have similar functionality to our high-end, RTX-enabled workstations.”

KPF will continue to push all compute, geometry and visualization to the cloud, so their employees can run complex compute functions on devices like laptops and tablets. The move into the cloud will make sharing compute resources more efficient and scalable, and provide KPF with greater flexibility for upgrading and servicing the infrastructure.

Learn more about NVIDIA Omniverse for AEC.