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11Hotlink

By Eric Goodwin

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Frank Lloyd Wright, the famed and prolific American architect, did more than design pretty buildings. His works take into consideration the unique qualities of the site; the wants and needs of the clients and are his three-dimensional essays on how people should live. For example, many of Wright’s houses featured large, central fireplaces because he believed the hearth was the heart of the home and an important gathering place for the family.

Architect Studio 3D (http://www.architectstudio3D.org) gives users a taste of the role Wright and other architects play in creating the built environment. Sponsored by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, the site allows you to design a house for a client. If your computer meets the site’s system requirements, you can also explore a 3-D model of your design and share it with your friends.

To begin, you are asked to choose from a set of virtual clients, each with a particular set of needs. As you start designing, a virtual Wright offers advice on proportion, building scale and more. You select where you place the walls, what building materials to use, landscaping, even what furnishings should go in the rooms.

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Although you have to work from a set of fixed options (it is online, after all), you may find yourself spending a lot of time rearranging and tweaking your house plan to fit your client’s desires. Touring the 3-D model of your plan is a blast! You can send an e-mail of your finished project to your friends and have them rank how you did.

The design program uses Adobe’s Shockwave plug-in, so performance can be slow at times (you have to reconfigure your browser to work with it at all on Intel processor-based Macintosh computers). Architect 3D Studio does offer a non-3-D version of the design program, but doesn’t offer the same level of customization and pales in comparison. Disappointingly, the site previously had a gallery where you could view and rank other designs, but it appears to have been taken down.

Architect Studio 3D also features a brief biography of Wright and looks at some his more famous buildings. It also features an architect’s handbook that explains some of details of designing structures.

By giving users a chance to step into the architect’s shoes, Architect Studio 3D shows the impact architecture can play in the community.

Eric Goodwin writes Hotlink for McClatchy-Tribune News Service. You can send e-mail to egoodwinmctinfoservices.com.

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