From CityEngine to Unreal Engine: the journey from first design steps to high-quality real-time visualization (part 1/3)


We are excited to present an example project from first design steps using ArcGIS CityEngine, to high-end visualization using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 game engine. Our motivation for this project is to show the new possibilities that come along with the latest releases of CityEngine and Unreal Engine, and explore the creative potential that is revealed by linking these two engines.

Our workflow consists of two parts: procedural design, with CityEngine as the main tool and visualization strategies with Unreal Engine as the main tool. For each part we discuss our approach conceptually and then give technical details for the implementation of our ideas, along with tips for best practices and links to relevant pages for more in depth exploration of the various techniques.

Update (2021-09-21): this document was originally written using CityEngine 2019.0 and Unreal Engine 4.22 (Unreal Studio version). We have now split it into 3 parts and will provide updates for current CityEngine versions soon.


South Boston CityEngine project now available on request! Are you interested using the CityEngine project presented in this document? Please send an email to Stefan Arisona‌ and we’ll send you a download link.




Part 1:

Background: a plan for redevelopment of Dorchester Avenue in South Boston


The project for the redevelopment of Dorchester Avenue in South Boston was carried out by the Boston Planning & Development agency in 2017. It consists of a zoning framework for future growth of an area in South Boston in a manner that is consistent with the community’s vision. Their vision describes a walk-able mixed-use neighborhood with improved public transportation, big sidewalks and cycling routes, that favors green spaces and view corridors along the main transportation axes.




More information about the plan for the redevelopment of Dorchester Avenue by the Boston Planning & …


Inspired by this plan and informed by its main guidelines, we went on to design detailed buildings and public spaces for the area using procedural tools. Our main goal was the creation of abundant green spaces on the street level as well as on the buildings in order to create an interconnected network of natural spaces serving various purposes and achieve integration of green and grey infrastructure.  As a result, we focused on creating green corridors and building types that accommodate green spaces on the ground level as well as along their height. We were also interested in accentuating the view corridors that were proposed in the plan by specifying detailed setback rules for the buildings that are located on those corridors.

Continue reading: Part 2 – Procedural design with CityEngine