Are your Architectural Renderings a T-Shirt, Shorts, and Sneakers?

By Justin Zellars


While researching development projects in Chicago for potential leads as part of business development for Studio 97, I came across some of the original architectural renderings for the Chicago Spire designed by Santiago Calatrava. Upon examining the work a quote by Natalie Massenet came to mind " Never forget that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression - with investors, with customers, with PR, and with marketing".

Would you go to a job interview or to the bank for a business loan wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers? Most people would answer "No." to this question however; many real estate developers and marketers do the equivalent of t-shirt wearing when presenting their projects. To the left is the architectural rendering of the Chicago Spire that I mentioned earlier. Is this depiction a suit and tie or is it shorts and t-shirt? Many examples can be found of  architectural renderings and presentations that don't tell a story or demonstrate the spirit and character of the development. They use a more casual "sneakers and a t-shirt" approach to presenting their ideas to potential clients.


Suit and Tie Approach to Architectural Renderings

suit and tie.jpg

Architectural renderings are the first impression of any real estate development project because they provide a narrative for the vision and create excitement for future possibilities. According to Daria Staverska, author of 4 Marketing Experts on Visual Content a Brand’s Storytelling, “Storytelling continues to play a major role in our lives; it’s an important part of human nature, and a powerful business tool.” * If done correctly, they can be the catalyst for immediate approval by city planners, investors, neighborhood committees, and tenants. This "suit and tie" approach allows for faster sales, approvals and overall project success.

Rendering courtesy of

Rendering courtesy of

An example of a project, also completed by Santiago Calatrava called the Oculus ( WTC Transportation Hub), used architectural renderings to sell the idea and present a concept for the finished design . The specific visuals that were utilized in the presentation were a combination of architectural renderings produced before the project was finished and photography taken after the project's completion. As you can see, what was envisioned through the architectural renderings correctly translated to the final product.

Rendering courtesy of Port Authority

Rendering courtesy of Port Authority

Photography by  HUFTON + CROW    Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Photography by HUFTON + CROW   Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Rendering courtesy of

Rendering courtesy of

Photography by  HUFTON + CROW   Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Photography by HUFTON + CROW  Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

 With the abundance of resources available to real estate developers and architects through talented visual communication firm's, clients no longer have to wait to promote their venture. Utilizing this method of suit and tie presentation allows the developer to illustrate their vision in a way that demonstrates their ability to skillfully and efficiently complete the project.

*Daria is a сommunications manager at Depositphotos. She has more than 10 years of experience in media. Her current areas of interest include innovations, digital marketing and public relations in tech companies, everything geek culture, and corgis.

Local First Arizona Forum

Studio 97 is excited to attend this great forum put on by Local First Arizona.  Eddie Jones from Jones Studio |  Adriene Jenik, ASU Herberger Institute for Design & the Arts|  Michael Levine, Levine Machine LLC |  Bob Frankeberger, Arizona State Historic Preservation Office are guest speakers that will be discussing Phoenix historic preservation.

LFA For(u)m  discusses the prevailing wisdom of Phoenix's "lack of history," and how that mentality has created a culture of demolition across the metro area. A journalist, an artist/academic, an architect, a government official, and a developer share how this culture came to be, the policies which under-gird it, the consequences of these efforts, and how to overcome through expanding what preservation means, and embracing history to build sense of place.

Featuring panelists from ASU Herberger Institute, Jones Studio, Investigative MEDIA, the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, and Levine Machine.