The chip maker Nvidia is straying from computer graphics for video games and is now engineering software technology like Iray, which is being used in the design for their new Gensler-designed Silicon Valley headquarters. Iray simulates how light will react with materials in the rendering of a space. As The New York Times reports, the CEO of the company, Jen-Hsun Huang, calls the technology "the world's largest simulator of photons," and notes that the company simulated light beams for every hour throughout the year. The software allows for quick changes so users can, as John Markoff reports, "alter everything in the company’s architectural design simulation, from the location, size and transparency of triangle-shaped skylights to material surfaces and colors.”

Lighting is crucial in the construction of Mr. Huang's vision of work spaces beneath a tree canopy. Gensler used Iray and virtual reality headsets to find spaces in the designs penetrated by direct sunlight, and the architects avoided placing employees in these overheated sections. The architects uncovered problems that may not have been predicted prior to construction, such as a visual obstruction at the top of a staircase or that the skylight was too vast. Seeking technology that surpasses traditional 2D architectural renderings has proven fruitful in the development of the Nvidia headquarters, which opens in late 2017.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

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