Porta Della Carta


After completing a painting of The Pantheon last year, I was looking around for another building to render for a series on Italian architecture.  I came across an image of the Porta Della Carta, a Gothic glory that offered a significant challenge.  I found it interesting as a subject because of the intricacy of the design, but also in that it had the unenviable distinction of being situated between the San Marcos Basilica and the Doge Palace, a mere portal amongst giants.

With its abundant history as a subject for artists from Canaletto to Turner and beyond, it was the paintings of my step-father, Carlos Diniz, that initially got me thinking about the possibilities of depicting Italian architecture. I wondered if I could find my own expression of such well-trodden tourist destinations.

In my approach, I thought added light so you can see what lay behind the majestic doors and along the loggia. In place of contemporary figures, I had the idea of adding a more colorful scene with a group of Comedia Della Arte characters during Carnival: A masked, dancing scallywag wooing the ladies with a mandocello.

The torrential flooding of Venice this year was terribly distressing, and this painting suddenly took on an added significance. When I think if the treasure chest of art and architecture that this city is, the exquisite work of Bellini, Titian and Tintoretto, the Gothic, Palladian, Rococo and Baroque structures, the exquisite tile and décor of the churches and cathedrals, and the art, writing and film that has been inspired by this city and its jewels I cannot imagine the loss to humankind it would be if it were allowed to be washed away by the rising ocean.

How do we deal with the inevitable decline of these architectural splendors as the planet continues to wreak havoc? It certainly gives one pause. I think that as people enlightened and educated in art, architecture and design, the mantle falls to us to help save this important part of human heritage by innovation in design and engineering, by speaking out on the importance of this city for all and of course, by donating and encouraging others to donate to the preservation of it for future generations. There is a great foundation working to do this, and their name says it all: SAVE VENICE.

As 2019 comes to a close, I am happy to still be creating and having the opportunity to help my clients to visualize their projects in the most aesthetic way possible. We have had some great commissions this year and I am grateful to be a part of the architectural and development teams that are committed to doing great work.

A little historical background on Porta Della Carta:

In 1438–1442, Giovanni Bon and Bartolomeo Bon built and adorned the Porta Della Carta, which served as the ceremonial entrance to the Doge Palace. The name of the gateway (translated as the Paper Portal) probably derives either from the fact that this was the area where public scribes set up their desks, or from the nearby location of the archives of state documents. This gate, located between the Basilica and the Doges Palace is flanked by Gothic pinnacles, with two figures of the Virtues per side (Fortress, Prudence, Hope and Charity).

The gateway is crowned by a bust of Mark the Evangelist over which rises a statue of Justice with her traditional symbols of sword and scales. In the space above the cornice, there is a sculptural portrait of the Doge Francesco Foscari kneeling before the winged Lion of Saint Mark, symbol of Venice. At the lower left corner of the frame, hugging the basilica’s poly-chrome marble-clad walls, you can see the Four Tetrarchs. The porphyry sculpture represents four Roman rulers and dates to around 300 A.D. It is believed to have been brought to Venice from Constantinople around 1204.

Un-Arrested Development

The process of a large-scale development is a complicated one. It involves tremendous effort and work by all involved and can easily bog down in anything from design disputes to neighborhood opposition to mere bureaucracy.

Having the project represented by renderings that are geared toward gaining approval is vital to keep things moving.

As experienced architectural visualizers, we understand what can influence these decisions and work with your team to ensure the best views of your proposal are depicted.  In meeting with development and architectural teams, we listen to the problems and work out views that will resolve them. We understand the visual cues that will create agreement.

We are an art firm, but we know that the images we produce are the key to marketing. We have the experience to know what people want and how to create a space that people want to be in.

Here are examples of three projects that were in various stage of impasse. We came into the team and worked out exactly what need to be seen to handle it. As a result, all of these major developments are now in progress.

Contact us for your next real estate development, redevelopment or urban renewal plan and let us help you get it moving.

100 West Walnut, Pasadena, California – Lincoln Property Company

“Your great work helped get us here.” Rob Kane, Executive VP, Lincoln Property Co.


Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Baldwin Hills California – Capri Capital Partners

“A great part of our story.  It makes a huge difference.”  – Lindsey Kozberg, Principal, Park Valayos LLP


Article about Baldwin Hills on CurbedLA , Article about Baldwin Hills on Urbanize

Westfield Promenade, Tarzana, CA – Westfield

“Ian Espinoza Associates has been an important extension of the Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield team.  Ian’s ability to grasp our vision and then produce beautifully rendered illustrations is second to none.  Over many years, this has proven to be instrumental in helping the public and key decision makers visualize & support the project.”
–  Larry Green – Executive Vice President, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield




Crenshaw Baldwin Hills Project Approved

Having forged a very successful relationship with  Park & Velayos, LLC on the Parson’s project in Pasadena, we were contacted again by the firm to produce a series of renderings for an important urban redevelopment project in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles.

Once a thriving shopping mall in the Crenshaw district, the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza opened in 1947 and was actually the first post-war retail plaza in California. The oldest shopping mall in the US, it was once one of Los Angeles’ major attractions, and includes some significant Art Deco style buildings.

With the changing tide of on-the-ground retail, Capri Capital Partners, who purchased the site in 2010, have an eye towards making it once again a center for the community and a destination easily accessed by the upcoming Metro Rail stop.  Collaborating with a team that including RAW International and LRM Landscape Architecture, we created a series of renderings that hit the mark in capturing the spirit of the project and that proved to greatly help Capri Retail Advisors in their proposal.

As with many master-planning projects at the preliminary stage, there was little in the way of actual architectural design when we were commissioned, so we worked to create scenes of the kind of community using place holder architecture – retail and residential – that would speak to the potential of the project and the enhancement of the neighborhood.

With the client directing, views were selected that would tell the big story, showing how the former retail space would convert into residential, hotel, business and open community space.  Featuring the lovely landscaped grand stairway was an obvious choice as it will serve as the primary gateway to the new mall. Another view displays how the project will fit in with the existing buildings in this historic area and shows how businesses would interact with the area, including the relationship of the new Martin Luther King Metro Station.

On the opposite end of the site, a view features the hotel, gardens and pool area with a variety of amenities, adding a destination for events, weddings and business conventions.  The open space aerial view presented a great opportunity to show all of the residential amenities.  By creating views that featured the park, sports courts and barbecue areas, you can see how the community would interact with the new plan.

After 18 months of negotiation the project has received city approval and will be moving forward into the next phase of development.

Many thanks to Park & Velayos for their faith in us and to Capri Capital Partners for bringing us onboard. Nothing makes us happier than to see our client’s projects move on to construction!

Our renderings of the project were predominantly featured in articles about the Mall in the Los Angeles Business Journal, la.curbed.com , Bisnow.com, and the LA Times.

Distilling all of the information with sensitivity to design, context and the needs of the client to visualize something that can serve as a credible representation of your idea, what you want it to be, is a valuable part of the skills we have developed after many years of working with the architectural community. We don’t just provide renderings, we offer a service that creates a sense of place and gains you approval in your presentation.

If we can help you and your company with an upcoming project, please contact us!