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Virtual reality leads to better building designs, happier clients, says architecture firm

VR plays an essential role in Perkins+Will’s communication with clients

Architects and clients immerse themselves in the design in Perkins+Will’s Collaborative Area for Virtual Exploration (CAVE) to enhance coordination and understanding of design solutions.
Image courtesy of Perkins+Will

A picture is worth 1,000 words, but what does that mean really? In the end, can one truly be certain about an end product with a single picture? Through virtual reality (VR), architecture and design firms are now able to make sure that clients are aware of all the nooks and crannies of a single building through immersive experiences rather than flat renderings.

Perkins+Will, an American architecture and design firm established in 1935, is one of these firms determined to help their clients explore the spaces they create through virtual reality.

While the name Perkins+Will might not be recognizable to some, the architecture and design firm’s projects are more than well known. Perkins+Will architects Phil Freelon and Zena Howard were crucial in the four-firm architectural team that designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Perkins+Will has not only worked on museums. They venture into several different types of projects, from corporate and commercial works to education to sports and recreation and also to transportation.

Other notable works include Chicago’s Chase Tower, Florida’s Signature Place, and China’s International School of Beijing.

When using virtual reality to create their works, the firm doesn’t see the technology as a gimmick, only constructive. There are two forms of the VR immersion that Perkins+Will uses: tethered and untethered.

When using tethered VR, one needs to stay in a solitary space, maybe remain sitting in a single chair and spin around. Through untethered VR, one can walk around as if literally inside the virtual space.

Perkins+Will uses both types of VR when working with a client in order to better communicate what a model looks like. The firm didn’t start using VR until last year, and now they’re using it for almost every project.

And why? There are some clients who may not be able to understand blueprints and models so well.

In the end, using VR has resulted in better designs, less reworking, and happier clients, according to Perkins+Will.

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