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Why Gensler Architects Have Embraced Allegorithmic’s Substance Software

Scott DeWoody of Gensler explains the firm’s adoption and use of Allegorithmic’s Substance software product line and how they work with it for all their digital material’s creation across their pipeline.


At Allegorithmic’s Substance Days event—which took place just before SIGGRAPH this year—one of the best architecture-related sessions was by Scott DeWoody, Firmwide Creative Media Manager, Gensler, who went through the architecture giant’s use of Allegorithmic’s Substance software product line.

Why Gensler Has Embraced Substance

Scott does a great job of walking the audience through Gensler’s design process workflow and the tool pipeline the firm has built around rendering. Gensler’s overall tool pipeline centers on Autodesk Revit as their BIM platform and Scott makes some statements about that but largely focuses on how materials in architecture and relevant within Gensler’s practice at both the schematic design level prior to Revit an after the models have been pushed into Revit.

As to be expected, given the firm’s size, Gensler employees a sophisticated and large array of digital software tools. Their Designer tools employ SketchUp and Rhino, Revit and 3ds max. On the Materials side of things, the Substance Painter, Designer, and B2M products cover all their materials capture and creation needs.

01 – From the Gensler talk at Substance Days at SIGGRAPH 2017. Substance anchors their workflow pipe for rendering.

Interestingly, the company uses Avail, a product we awarded a BEST of SHOW in the Innovation Category for our AIA 2016 show coverage, noted here, that handles asset management. This tool helps hold and manage their digital materials. On the Gaming Engine front, they employ both Unity and Unreal Engine. And Gensler uses a plethora of Interactive Tools, including the award-winning CL3VER among them.

“The beautiful thing is that Substance allows us to bring our materials across the entire platform without much limitation,” says DeWoody in the video presentation, “and [that’s imporant] because usually each of these applications handles materials in their own way.”

02 – Scott DeWoody of Gensler talking at Substance Designer at Substance Days 2017.

03 – The node graph approach to working with the creation of materials (textures) for 3D rendering in Substance Designer.

When you have such a rich complexity of apps working within a firm, which gives designers lots of choices for how to reach and communicate with the client, solving how these materials get carried over from one application to the next can be quite challenging.

So the firm uses Substance to create a material once and then “easily save that material with a naming convention” so they can create the material for Revit, which handles materials in its own unique way, to take the Substance file into Unity, or make an MDL and pipe that to iray or V-Ray “without much issues at all,” says DeWoody.

All of this helps Gensler’s designers by providing them tool flexibility while not being burdened by material complexities across the workflow pipeline. “We don’t need designers recreating materials every time they jump into a different platform,” notes DeWoody in the presentation.

Architosh Commentary

For large firms doing extensive visualization work like Gensler the adoption of Substance into their pipeline is affording the firm massive advantages over their competitors due to a dramatically streamlined creative rendering pipeline. The adoption means also making a one to one match-up of their physical material library to a digital version deployed by the firm’s designers and renderers for projects.

The Key Takeaways

  • Gensler is using Allegorithmic’s Substance product line with an extensive use of Substance Designer to create digital material textures that match the properties of real physical materials the architecture firm’s designers are actually specifying or choosing for their projects.
  • Substance allows Gensler to create materials up front, as a digital extension of the firm’s physical materials library, and as DeWoody notes, Substance materials can be used across their entire digital platform, which is key because each software tends to handle materials in a unique way.
  • They have tapped NVIDIA’s parallel GPU products for real-time iray rendering as Substance handles MDL and supports NVIDIA iray. This allows them intensive iterative powers.


The Video Session

Here is the video session led by Scott DeWoody below, hosted on YouTube.








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