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Front view of a cantilevered house. The house is clad in wood on the top half, painted black on the bottom half©NOMINN
Front view of a cantilevered house. The house is clad in wood on the top half, painted black on the bottom half©NOMINN

NOMINN showcases Little Mod's seasonal beauty with ease using Corona

Discover how Jake Williams leveraged Corona to highlight The Little Mod, an urban infill development, securing crucial funding and winning awards.


  • Jake Williams founded NOMINN in 2021 after a decade in the industry.   
  • NOMINN visualized the Little Mod project, a dense housing development in St Paul, Minnesota.
  • Corona enabled NOMINN to showcase Little Mod through Minnesota’s distinct seasons when site photography wasn’t possible.
  • The renderings helped the project secure funding, grants, city approval, and won an Architizer A+ Award.

After relocating back to his home state of Minnesota in 2021, Jake Williams launched NOMINN. Nearly three years later, it has become a full-time visualization studio with notable clients and projects. Leveraging his decade of experience at industry leading companies like WeWork and Kilograph, Jake aims to provide unique imagery for architects and designers. NOMINN, named for its northern Minnesota roots, often integrates the natural landscape into its renderings to show how architecture interacts with the environment.

This naturalistic approach was recently showcased with the Little Mod project, a distinctive duplex planned for the West 7th neighborhood of Saint Paul, Minnesota. The project required high-quality renderings to move from the planning stage and into development. To elevate the renderings, Jake used Corona to depict the building through Minnesota's changing seasons, showcasing its integration into the neighborhood year-round.

Renderings needed for funding, grants, and approvals

After collaborating on a lakeside resort project in 2021, Double Jack Design Workshop returned to NOMINN for renderings of The Little Mod project, which it was both designing and developing through its partner company, GRO. The duplex is an urban infill development aimed at increasing housing density in the neighborhood. Each unit contains six bedroom/bathroom suites (12 total), which can be rented individually with a shared kitchen and lounge area.

Double Jack needed to use the exterior renderings to secure funding, win grant proposals, and obtain approvals from the city. With that in mind, Jake used the creative flexibility he was given and created a series of impressive renderings, each capable of standing alone as a piece of art. In the end, he decided to render images of Little Mod throughout the changing Minnesota seasons. This, he hoped, would establish the development as a smart and natural addition to the neighborhood for investors and officials viewing the images.

Corona has always seemed to be a more efficient way for me to get good results. … I appreciated that software didn’t get in your way in a technical way. It kept some things hidden away, leaving you with more opportunities to focus on the creative side of things rather than the technical side.

Jake Williams, NOMINN

Using Corona to showcase the seasons and overcome site inaccessibility

Changing seasons is much more labor intensive than a typical approach of producing a number of images with the same look and lighting. Additionally, because the building site was inaccessible, Jake couldn’t take onsite photography. This meant he had to create and model all the different vegetation and materials per view fully in 3D.

Thankfully, Jake’s preferred way to work is with extremely detailed 3D scenes and multiple lighting setups all in one file, so adding seasons to the mix was only another added layer to solve for. Selecting Corona as his renderer of choice continues to add new levels of variability to his workflow.

Having used Corona for almost a decade, Jake knew exactly what features he could use to yield the best results and ease his workflow. To achieve the most realistic lighting for each view, he relied on Corona Sun and Sky, which gave the effect he needed for the different seasonal skies — like a wintery dusk scene — while simplifying the setup of the views. Meanwhile, he used Corona’s Select Material and Select Map nodes to create the vegetation and materials for each scene, allowing him to find a quick solution by creating unique foliage maps and materials for the different seasons.

With the help of Corona, Jake produced a series of renderings that each individually tell a story and show off Little Mod as a realistic, liveable dwelling. By showing the building throughout the year, viewers could easily imagine what the duplex would look like as a part of the West 7th neighborhood, adding another layer of realism and believability to the proposed project.

We try to keep our workflow as simple and efficient as possible, while also pushing the boundaries as much as we can, and there’s many tools in Corona that help us with this.

Jake Williams, NOMINN

Results that won grants—and awards

Since NOMINN produced the renderings, Double Jack has used them to attract funding and obtain grants for this unique development. The project was awarded considerable funds, including Statewide Affordable Housing Aid, 2023 HRA Levy funding, and American Rescue Plan Act funding to help bring Little Mod to life.

In addition, NOMINN was able to submit the finished renderings to the 12th Annual Architizer A+ Awards. NOMINN's detailed and considered approach to crafting the right mood and atmosphere, combined with Double Jack's clever cantilevering design, clearly caught the judges' attention, and the renderings were selected as the Jury Winner in the Architecture +Models & Rendering Category.

It seems funny to say but I don't categorize myself as a super technical person … then Corona came out and it was just a lot simpler. So that's one of the reasons why I still love using it—it can be super technical if you want it to be but it also doesn't really get in your way, giving you more time to focus on the creative side of things.

Jake Williams, NOMINN

Little Mod interiors and beyond

Construction on The Little Mod is planned to start in Summer 2024, and NOMINN is now working with Double Jack on the interior renderings. Using Corona, Jake will create a series of images that Double Jack will use to attract tenants who are ready to move in as soon as the duplex is complete.

NOMINN's detail-oriented approach helped secure essential funding and recognition for Little Mod, showcasing the power of using Corona to produce high-quality architectural visualization. As construction begins, NOMINN continues to push the boundaries of archviz, blending art, technology, and the natural beauty of Minnesota, and transforming architectural projects from concept to reality.

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