Torrey Pines Fire Station is one of the latest additions to San Diego's Fire Department. The $16.5 million facility is currently in design and slated for completion in 2024. As a public project, the contract was awarded through a design competition.
A large part of the submission was a graphics package, including a video with animations showcasing the final design. My role was to lead a small rendering team to develop this video, along with a few still renderings over the course of a few weeks.
This involved thoughtful coordination with the design team to craft a convincing story, while balancing project requirements and maintaining alignment with the project budget.
The project played a big role in further developing my animation skills, and pushed me to grow as a leader at the same time.
The video ultimately helped our submission stand out from the crowd and was essential in Miller Hull being awarded the contract to move forward with the project.
In addition to the video, you can view a gallery of some of the best still renderings by clicking on any of the images below.
I won't take credit for the conceptual design for this project, as I was brought on specifically during the competition after the initial design phases. However, for context, I'll share a bit about the concept.
Straddling the boundary between UCSD's campus and a high-income neighborhood close to the ocean, the project's main goals were to fit in seamlessly and connect with the local community.
It's simple form opens up towards the ocean and offers a welcoming entry for the public, while shielding back of house functions by cutting into the natural topography on the opposite side. This offers a pleasant view of the structure from any perspective and keeps neighbors happy on all sides.
To create the animation, a lot of different assets needed to be pulled together from different sources. When I got involved in the project, The team already had a good draft of their model in Revit, but it only included geometry within the site's property line.
Because the building wasn't very large, the majority of the content required to create a realistic scene was in the surrounding context. This included topography, vegetation, roads, and other buildings.
Using GIS data, I created a model for the topography which included some of the surrounding buildings. Other areas close to our site with a finer level of detail, like curbs and sidewalks, needed to be modeled by hand.
I was able to create a good texture map for the topography with a high resolution export from Google Earth and a little bit of Photoshop to remove things like cars and people.
With all the major pieces ready, I created a composite model in Lumion, using coordinates from our Revit model and GIS data to accurately align everything I had made so far.
However, to create a realistic scene, the real work was to populate this model with additional assets like cars, people, plants and materials. This required ongoing communication with the design team as well as our landscape architect.
Because of our short timeline, a really important part of our process was creating a storyboard around the different shots we wanted to include. With a storyboard to follow, the team could focus on developing the model specifically in the areas shown in the animation.
The scenes we chose highlight the primary features of the building by showing "a day in the life" of the firefighters at this station. The most important features we wanted to show were:
To craft the final animation, I worked with my team to create a natural flow between these scenes, incorporating sound effects and music to bring it all together. A lot of effort went into framing each shot to properly showcase the design and setting up cinematic lighting to create a convincing sense of time and place.
It was gratifying to see our efforts recognized when Miller Hull was awarded the contract for the project. It serves as a great example of how a group of people can come together to achieve lofty goals in a short timeframe.
This project taught me a lot about leadership and working collaboratively on a tight schedule. In addition, our success gives me confidence to pursue more ambitious projects in the future.