Architecture / Engineering / Construction

Houseal Lavigne Elevates Urban Design and Planning

With NVIDIA Omniverse Enterprise and OpenUSD


When it comes to urban planning, companies traditionally create planning documents that can have hundreds of pages of text, accompanied with low-fidelity images and maps. Houseal Lavigne was one of the first companies to lead with a visual approach—instead of creating pages of text, the team wanted to provide 3D images and illustrations to better communicate their innovative designs, and stay ahead of the competition. For the past few years, Houseal Lavigne has paved the way in creating high-fidelity, immersive 3D environments, or digital twins for many customers around the world, providing interactive 3D reviewing experiences with NVIDIA Omniverse Enterprise and Universal Scene Description (OpenUSD). 


Use Case

Simulation / Modeling / Design


Universal Scene Description (OpenUSD)
NVIDIA Omniverse Enterprise

Using NVIDIA Omniverse Enterprise and OpenUSD, the team at Houseal Lavigne has experienced many benefits in their 3D workflows: 

  • Created innovative, immersive, and detailed 3D environments for client review in record time.
  • Reduced urban planning development processes from months to hours.
  • Interactive 3D graphics are keeping Houseal Lavigne ahead of their competition.

Design & Planning

A New Approach For Urban Planning

Houseal Lavigne’s pioneering approach to Urban Planning recently won them Esri’s ​​Special Achievement in GIS Award and an Innovation Award for the use of ArcGIS in an innovative or disruptive way. With roughly 30 people at the company, Houseal Lavigne focuses on leveraging the newest technologies to create photoreal 3D environments to communicate their designs effectively with customers. 

In 2004, they were working mostly in 2D, with projects completed using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and some custom scripting to distort 2D images to give the appearance of 3D, says Devin Lavigne, principal and co-founder of Houseal Lavigne. Today, the team can use close to 20 applications over the course of a project, including Trimble’s Sketchup, Adobe Substance 3D Collection, and Esri’s ArcGIS CityEngine.

With NVIDIA Omniverse Enterprise and OpenUSD, Houseal Lavigne can bring all these tools and designers together in one place to visualize a unified output.” Using the ArcGIS CityEngine connector, we bring our city planning geometry and data into Omniverse, and incorporate building design data from Sketchup, and materials and textures from Adobe Substance Painter. We can then stream this combined output to our clients using USD Presenter for interactive review, delivered in high-fidelity, real-time, path-traced rendering,” continues Lavigne. 

Traditionally in urban planning, companies will look at the land and determine which areas are best suited for residential or commercial use. But Houseal Lavigne spearheaded the "Place Type" approach, which showcases the fluidity of the land and all the different land uses that are possible. 

Place types are tools for guiding development, and they provide a way to shape urban planning by focusing on context and character of a place—the look and feel of locations, and their different forms and characteristics—instead of relying on conventional land uses. By creating different place types in interactive 3D environments with Omniverse Enterprise, Houseal Lavigne can rapidly communicate and iterate on designs in real time.  The interactivity of the Omniverse environment combined with real-time path-traced rendering means they can provide high-fidelity renders of buildings and layouts with colleagues and clients, instantly.

Interactive 3D environments with Omniverse Enterprise

Houseal Lavigne

Reviews & Walkthroughs

Accelerating Urban Development While Increasing Client Engagement

Previously, taking urban design concepting through to client-ready images could take the team months to complete one project. Lavigne said he typically spent a lot of time capturing and creating details that users wouldn’t be able to see right away, from pathways on streets to the windows on houses. 

Now, using Omniverse and OpenUSD, the team can quickly design 3D assets and illustrations with higher polygon counts, and still include hundreds of different assets and materials without worrying about slowing down creative workflows. 

OpenUSD, an open-source 3D scene description and file format, is a foundational element for Omniverse that enables interoperability when using the platform. USD eases the exchange and interoperability between design data from different applications. This provides Houseal Lavigne with the opportunity to increase collaboration across teams, as Omniverse becomes the central operator for the graphics. 

"Like any 3D program, the initial experience was a bit intimidating, but once we were able to understand how USD files work, the whole process became fast and easy," Lavigne said. "For example, we were working on a recent development project around a Chicago suburb, and I was able to complete the project in 4 hours — from start to finish."

One of the latest projects Houseal Lavigne completed was the Forward Dallas, a citywide visionary plan that establishes guidelines for how public and private land should be used and what one of the largest cities in the country should look like. The models and renderings for the project were built in Omniverse through the CityEngine Connector. Lavigne and his team identified different place types, from regional parks to rural areas. And instead of printing out these place types on a PDF, the team was able to run real-time, interactive reviews with stakeholders, as Omniverse Enterprise lets users view high-fidelity renders of 3D models in real time. This allows for clearer communication, enhanced collaboration, and ultimately leads to faster decision-making. 

As a smaller firm, Houseal Lavigne continues to take on projects around the world, punching above its weight in the sector. Lavigne shares, “Based on the quality of our output, and time it takes for us to complete, our clients often can’t believe how small our company is”. 

"What we're finding is that 3D graphics are now what's expected from customers, and the interactive component is becoming a common request," said Lavigne. "Omniverse Enterprise has helped us stay ahead of our competition, allowing us to continue driving innovations."

In the future, Houseal Lavigne plans to develop new ways to use Omniverse and the cloud to provide these interactive design experiences to people around the world through VR.

“Our quality and efficiency often leave customers amazed by our small teams capabilities.”

Devin Lavigne
Principal and co-founder of Houseal Lavigne

Start developing interoperable 3D workflows and OpenUSD applications.

Houseal Lavigne

Start developing interoperable 3D workflows and OpenUSD applications.