Virtual Reality Technology: New Realities in Design and Construction

Virtual Reality Technology: New Realities in Design and Construction

I recently presented at the 2013 Alternative Project Delivery Summit as part of a team of expert speakers from diverse disciplines. The presentation and interactive demonstration focused on how virtual and augmented reality technologies are being applied to dynamic building projects.

I presented an in-depth look at the design and development of the UCSF Mission Hall project, a 266,000 square foot office building, and how Virtual Reality (VR) technology is changing the way we think about design simulation and communication. We are always interested in new technologies that will improve our design process, and wanted to investigate ways in which we can benefit from adopting VR. Mission Hall was our pilot project and has been a largely successful one. VR has proven to be a powerful tool to understand, communicate, and validate the design. 

With a stereoscopic image and a wide field-of-view, VR solves many of the problems associated with traditional rendered design representations and allows any project stakeholder to experience the design in an immersive way.

(on the UCSF Mission Hall project we had an opportunity to use a full motion tracking headset to virtually walk around in the building model)

In the CAVE format, VR can be a collaborative evaluation tool because a design can be experienced by a number of people at one time, thus prompting informal dialogue that might otherwise not take place in a traditional design presentation. Even from our early stages of testing, VR has allowed for more confident decision-making, both for our clients and internally within the design team. We have found VR to be a good complement to WRNS’ intensive use of Building Information Modeling, because quality models are readily available at many stages of design.

(a virtual reality CAVE at WorldViz allowed multiple participants to experience the Mission Hall building model simultaneously, and we could easily discuss finer points of the design)

Speakers at the presentation included: Andrew Beall of WorldViz (Software/Hardware), Jason Halaby of WRNS (Architect), Patrick Krzyzosiak of Rudolph and Sletten (General Contractor), and Eduardo Macagno of UC San Diego (Neuroscientist).

You can watch the presentation here (Jason’s portion begins around 28:10 min.): Click here.