The client approached me with a massing plan for a grocery store and "town square" style mixed-use area to be developed along a busy traffic corridor in the Hudson Valley region of NY.  The location is adjacent to a golf course community, so the client wanted a "Whole Foods" style upscale grocery store to set the tone of the development.
The overall massing of the project was modeled first, with single story retail space near the main road, and multi-story retail and apartments further back in the development.
The Whole Foods massing was developed first, to establish a palette and design direction that tried to capture a "modern Adirondack" aesthetic, along with some typical WF design features. Even though this is a preliminary study, entourage and sky were introduced early on so the client would have an accurate idea of the design before moving on. 
The design progressed quickly for this view, with only minor changes between the first iterations and the final design, shown here. Landscaping, entourage, and a different sky were added for this final rendering. I'll often use an HDRI sky as a place-holder in early iterations, then replace it with a sky in Photoshop once the viewpoint is dialed in. HDRI's can be time-consuming to sort and place and render, so it's often faster and more effective to dial in the sky in Photoshop instead.  Glass is a real challenge to get perfect "in the render", so I'll typically handle it in Photoshop - here a few layers of light and color give the impression interior life within.
Here's an initial massing view of the "town center" style shopping area.  In this round, I'm just trying to establish the overall scope, height, and direction of the view.
In the first design iterations the initial massing has been broken down into more manageable chunks, adding materials and vocabulary established in the design for the imagined WF location.  
The client suggested that we use a different vocabulary for the shopping center to differentiate it from the WF location, so this design was developed, going with a more traditional vocabulary and material palette.  We also eliminated the foreground retail building to allow better visual connection between the two portions of the development.
Further design refinements bring us to the nearly complete design shown here.  The site was revised to reflect the slope of the site, and the viewpoint was moved up slightly to allow a better perspective on the plaza area and elements further back.
Lots of Photoshop magic in this final iteration to complete the rendering - adding signage, banners, people and plantings.  Once again, windows were embellished at this stage to give a sense of "life" within, and a different sky was added to compliment the overall scene. Note the golf carts included to hint at the nearby retirement community and golf course.
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