Renovation and expansion projects take an extensive amount of time and resources. Therefore you want to make sure the finished product is perfect — just what you had planned and imagined. And thanks to technology that is becoming easier than ever.
It used to be when conceiving ideas for a project, architects and designers would start by sketching it out on paper. Then they would input those designs into software that would construct a 3D model. However, even with a 3D model it can be hard to conceptualize an entire facility.
“The ability to create a 3D model has been around for a long time,” said Pedro Garcia, an architectural intern at RDG Planning and Design. “The problem was that we did not have the ability to put ourselves into the model. We could bring you to our computer and show you the model on a flat screen, rotate it and move it around, but we did not have the ability to put ourselves into that model.”
According to Garcia, this is where virtual reality comes in. With the advances in technology, RDG Planning and Design is now able to take their 3D models a step further, creating virtual realities for each project that clients can put themselves into in order to see all the detail and intricacies of the design.
As Hoang Tran, an architectural intern at RDG Planning and Design, explained using virtual reality has been extremely helpful for both the designers and also the clients. It helps to speed up the decision making process since the client is able to put themselves into the building. “Usually our client isn’t just one person,” said Tran. “It is a building committee, campus architects, students, professors, and a lot of people who aren’t used to looking at plans. So, virtual reality, and 3D modeling software in general, helps us with the presentation of the building. It helps the clients with a better understanding of how the building works, how the programs are put into place and just general aesthetics.”
When it comes to renovations, usually the two most important factors are scheduling and budgets. Majority of the time it seems as though projects get delayed and costs go up. But again these are all things virtual reality help combat. “By them understanding the building at an earlier stage it is also going to stay on schedule, which is ultimately going to turn into savings on the budget,” explained Garcia. “The bottom line becomes very important and we are hopefully going to eliminate changes and budget overruns. They are really seeing the space that they know they are going to get. It is as close as we can get to actually building the space.”
As with any technology, nothing ever comes easy. RDG Planning and Design first started experimenting with the virtual reality technology internally over a year ago, before taking it to clients more recently. However, since clients have experienced it, they now expect it. “Before no one was requesting it,” added Garcia. “We were just doing it because it was a tool that could benefit our clients. But now everyone will casually ask if we are bringing our VR. They expect that it is going to be part of our meetings once we get to a certain stage. They immediately saw the benefits.”