Developers use Fortnite video game technology to bring Newport’s Ovation project to life

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Written by Evan Millward for WCPO

As construction goes vertical on Newport’s long-awaited Ovation project, its developers and architects are using the technology behind a popular video game to visualize how it will look when it’s completed. And it’s all done using just an Xbox controller.

“Honestly, I don’t play Fornite myself but this whole interactive experience was built using the same technology, same software they used to build Fortnite,” said architectural visualization artist Ryan Fellers.

It’s also the same technology that brings the Disney+ show “The Mandalorian” to life.

Using Unreal Enginetools and drone photography, Fellers has been able to recreate downtown Cincinnati, Newport, and Covington in a virtual world. And then he worked with the Corporex team designing Ovation to make it as realistic a recreation as possible.

It serves as a chance to make tweaks to the design once that team gets to ‘walk’ through the development, seeing it as a resident or visitor would. In one instance, designers noticed they needed to make minor changes to the parking garage until the next phase is built.

“This allows everyone to think like I am,” said Mark Bischoff, Corporex’s director of architecture and design. “It’s like what I see when I’m thinking about the next project or the next phase.”

The sales team also now uses it to show prospective condo buyers the view from their condo balcony over the boardwalk section of the development.

“We can change time of day, from sunrise to sunset,” Fellers said. “[We can] change what month we’re looking at it, see how the shadows change.”

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The 25-acre development is already starting to open. MegaCorp Pavilion, an indoor-outdoor concert and event venue, has been booking acts for more than one year. An office tower next door to it on Third Street will welcome its first tenants in May and is about half leased. A Homewood Suites hotel should open this summer, according to a Corporex spokesperson.

Then, a pedestrian bridge over Third Street will open, welcoming people into what will be Illumination Square and apartment and condo buildings opening in 2024.

In all, the mixed-use development will open in three phases with more than 1,000 residential units, a membership health club, more than 500 hotel rooms, and hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail and office spaces. Plus, the boardwalk will connect to the Riverfront Commons trail system and the Gen. James Taylor Park, on the other side of the levee wall.

“This will allow the city of Newport to connect to the riverfront like never before,” Bischoff said.

In fact, the visualization technology has allowed local civic leaders to see how the project fits on top of the existing levee wall, a years-long project in conjunction with the Army Corps of Enigneers, and connects to the green space on the other side of the levee.

The Ovation Experience Center is now open next to MegaCorp Pavilion, where you can use this technology and learn more about the residential sales and development.

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