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NVIDIA marries art and science for their new campus

NVIDIA marries art and science for their new campus

NVIDIA and Gensler partnered to design a unique campus for NVIDIA’s employees. This building is the newest addition to NVIDIA’s Santa Clara campus and it’s the product of a carefully coordinated partnership between cutting edge software and a vision for company culture.

The new addition is a triangle shaped 500,000 square-foot building and is slated to open at the end of 2017. It will primarily house office space for 2,500 employees with parking for about 1,500 vehicles located under the building. The construction is about two-thirds complete and you can see their progress on the corner of San Tomas Expressway and Walsh Avenue.

NVIDIA is a visual computing company while Gensler is an architecture, design and planning firm. They’ve been working with general contractor Devcon to bring this project to fruition.

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“This is a building that is really rooted in how NVIDIA works,” said Manan Shah, Gensler’s studio director. “[We wanted to] create a really effective work place and a place for collaboration.”

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang emphasized that he wanted the new campus to be the best it can be for the employees, according to NVIDIA senior director of real estate and site services John O’Brien.

They wanted the building to be open and encourage casual encounters between the different teams. Therefore, they arrived at a two-story plan with very little enclosed space and lots of connectivity between the floors. They hope that the building’s design will spark conversations that will then spark innovation in their work.

The building is through and through, a physical representation of NVIDIA. Its unique triangle shape resonates with them and the spirit of the company.

“This shape speaks to who we are as a company,” said O’Brien. “We’re a visual computing company and this triangle is really the basic building block of rendering.”

Additionally, with parking underneath, the main entrance is actually in the middle of the building. In fact, many of the social areas, food spaces and more are in the middle of the building while quieter office space is towards the outer rim. O’Brien hopes that this will encourage people to leave their desks and interact with others as they grab a cup of coffee.

Besides a massive building, another product of this partnership is NVIDIA’s advanced rendering software named Iray. Using Iray, the Gensler team was able to design NVIDIA’s new campus and create detailed 3D renderings to truly experience the space before it was built. Their CEO took a page out of the company’s book to build this building. They simulate their products before they are ever created, and that’s how they designed and built their new campus.

“Iray is focused on designers. Helping them make not just great presentations but helping their whole design process. Making it easier and even more fun,” said Scott DeWoody, Gensler’s firmwide creative media manager.

Iray played a big part in helping designers figure out how to utilize the ideal amount of natural light in the building while still allowing the employees to work their monitors comfortably. Iray simulated the kind and amount of light that will spill into specific areas the building at any given time, month, or season.

“Iray is the first tool that has essentially come out that allows us to really see how light is going to interact with the space,” said DeWoody.

Iray also helped the designers choose the materials and the colors of materials that would be used. These materials are now cataloged into the software and proved to perform in reality just like they did in the program.

All of this design information can be rendered into a 3D experience where you can virtually walk through the building and see how design decisions look in real time, without having to pick up a single hammer or can of paint. The program is also very fast since it can create these renders almost immediately.

Iray is available to the public, but a few features are still in the works. NVIDIA hopes to show the world what is possible when they release new advances later this year, according to NVIDIA senior director of product management Phillip Miller.

Virtual reality (VR) is one of the features that isn’t ready for the public but was instrumental to designing the new campus.

Thanks to VR, NVIDIA has been able to get an in-depth feel of the building that isn’t possible with a 2D snapshot or even to scale mock up. They use the Oculus and the HTC Vibe to few the building in VR.

“VR has given NVIDIA the opportunity to spend a lot of time exploring and understanding the building and its design,” said Shah.

There are also images of the building’s construction phases. The images were created using hundreds of photos from drones and internal scans. In VR they can zoom in and out as well as go back in time to earlier stages or forward to what the building will look like when it’s done.

“We have seen this building and lived in this building,” said O’Brien. “It’s just a manifestation what we’ve seen and lived in already.”

NVIDIA designed their new building in a pretty unique way in order to create a unique space where their employees can be innovators. They made sure the whole process–from the way it was designed to the finished building–would be a true representation of who they are as a company.

O’Brien recalled what the NVIDIA CEO said to the design team, “The story at the end of the day with this building is the way we built it, not the fact that we built it,” recalled O’Brien. “Anyone can build a building; buildings are built everyday. The difference is, this is how we do our business.”

Learn more about NVIDIA’s new campus and see some 3D images at endeavor.nvidia.com.

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