Technology as a differentiator

Dec 26, 2021

Invest in these technologies so you can continue bringing the best solutions to your clients and remain competitive in the changing market.

Technology has always played a critical role in how we deliver services to our clients. Most recently, it has drastically changed the way we work and provide services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But overall, it has impacted the critical decisions we make to best serve our clients and staff.

Since our founding more than 55 years ago, developing and implementing technology has served as a catalyst for that change. From industry leading technologies and services to our processes and beyond, Pennoni is constantly innovating to accomplish more. This principle is fundamental to our culture and allows us to be proactive to the ever-changing needs of our clients and the communities we serve.

A shining example of this commitment to technology is Pennoni FX Studios, our in-house design visualization team. Through cinematic animation and visualizations, this team of engineers, surveyors, designers, and special FX artists brings projects and designs to life. Founded in 2015, the goal has been simple: Produce visualizations, based on engineered data, to convey ideas clearly and effectively – not only to the public, but also to our clients and design team partners.

PFX produces high quality 3D renderings and animations to help illustrate what proposed new projects will look like in context with the surrounding community and built environment. PFX visualization efforts often integrate 3D topographical survey, HD Laser Scan point clouds, and other available 3D design assets such as Revit or Sketchup files for a streamlined visualization workflow for both accurate and realistic animations. Pennoni provides high end 3D animations, infographics, and presentation materials for use in the public involvement process.

PFX recently completed one of its largest projects since its inception – a five-square-mile digital twin of Newport News, Virginia. Working closely with the city of Newport News, the PFX team developed a multi-faceted visualization approach for the downtown area to express new revitalization efforts. Pennoni created 3D models for the existing conditions, as well as integration and creation of more than a dozen new or proposed development models. Several conceptual models, such as the seafood market, were created in real time by the PFX team with input from city personnel. The project consisted of 13 projects. Five projects were built entirely from scratch, including a kayak launch model and health and wellness center.

Pennoni created a virtual meeting space, virtual 3D tour of the project sites scattered throughout the Newport News area, and an enhanced GIS story map complete with 360-degree renderings of the projects. This visualization approach helped to capture more than a decade of planning, projects, and innovations led by the city in one interactive ecosystem. PFX studios worked in synergy with the city’s GIS team in a single large collaboration.

Pennoni utilized Photo360⁰, a multi-purpose tool for viewing laser scanner data, 360° photography, smart asset information, and GIS integration to develop the five-square-miles of interactive mapping and photosphere renderings. Users can navigate and experience each of the 13 unique project locations using the custom-made Pennoni software.

In addition to the fully functional 3D model, Pennoni developed a two-minute animation featuring the exterior of the project as well as an outreach video. The video used for project promotion included motion graphics, a voiceover, and more to depict the before and after effects of the ongoing revitalization in Newport News.

Through PFX, Photo360⁰, and other evolving technologies, Pennoni uses these creations as a differentiator. Clients have options when choosing a firm to work with and positioning ourselves with expertise in both engineering and animation sets us apart and allows for the growth of our client base.

The traditional services that firms like Pennoni offer will always be needed. The delivery of these services has changed in that software and technological advancements have given us better ways to arrive at our solutions for our clients. As our clients, both public and private, expand their use of more smart technologies in efficient and effective ways, it is important for firms like ours to embrace the changing technologies. We need to innovate and invest in these initiatives to continue bringing the best solutions to our clients and remain competitive in the changing market.

Joseph Spadea is associate vice president at Pennoni Associates. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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