Success Story

Building a Career in Architectural Design

Sometimes you don’t set out upon your path—it happens to find you.

Franklin Bryant was undecided about his career goals when he came to Community College of Philadelphia. He previously spent one year at Thaddeus Stevens State College in Lancaster and planned to study electronics, but it was not the right place for him. He came home to Philadelphia and enrolled at the College, majoring in Liberal Arts. A drafting class caught his interest, and Bryant found himself following a new direction.

“I really got along with the faculty,” he said. “The way they were teaching made me want to pursue architecture even more.”

While working toward his Architecture degree, Bryant was on track to transfer to a four-year institution when Paula Behrens, professor and head of Design Technologies, put him in touch with a company in need of his skills. He is now a digital artist with AEI Digital, a creative agency that provides media consulting and services that include modeling and animation, interactive 3D simulations and motion graphics. Bryant has been with the Center City business since January 2002.

Franklin Byrant photo
Byrant's computer model of a patients room.

“Architects or clients want to understand a space before it is built,” said Bryant. Through graphic design and animation programs, it is his job to “make realistic models of what the space will look like.” With today’s software, a digital artist can create exactly what a redesigned interior space will look like, complete with recommended colors, or simulate a walk around the exterior of a proposed building. Architects give Bryant information, such as building elevations, which he takes from AutoCAD and uses in programs like 3D Studio Max.

The advanced technology he works with daily “increases clients’ confidence,” since they are looking at a realistic picture, not trying to visualize a space from one-dimensional drawings.

“Clients are very pleased with it,” Bryant said of the 3D renderings. “This is a strong tool being used more and more.” In addition, clients are using these visuals to help with fundraising efforts for their projects.

Franklin Byrant photo
Franklin Byrant

With fast moving technology, it is important for professionals in the field to be self-motivated and always willing to build upon existing knowledge.

“I’ve been through four versions of 3D Studio Max since 2002,” said Bryant. “Technology does change, from add-ons to V-Ray, another rendering engine. Of course, our skills evolve also. You have to stay one step ahead. If you don’t, you can easily be left behind.”

Tutorials that accompany software programs and upgrades are only a part of what keeps Bryant competitive in this cutting-edge field.

“You’re always teaching yourself,” he said. “Keeping your mind open as to what you can use in the future is important. There is always a learning curve, and you are learning new things because every project is different. We constantly talk to each other in the office about features we use.”

Bryant credits the faculty at the College for their contacts with the local industry and keeping up with technology, many times urging students to take classes on various programs. He recalls their philosophy as, “When you leave here, this is what you should know to get a job.”

Bryant looks forward to the future in his current position, with the goal of helping “to grow the company as a whole and improve my skills.”

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