Could it be that the days of rulers, X-acto knives, pencils, and blueprints are in the rear view mirror of the design world? Today, architects, designers, and builders have access to technology such as BIM and VR, which allows clients to see plans come to life before construction begins. These advancements will be at the center of the discussion at Building Before Building: Augmenting Design with Technology at 7 Tide on April 5, 2018 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The talk will be moderated by president of Clarke Distribution Corporation, Sean Clarke, and experts will include architect Chris Brown of b Architecture Studio, interior designer Michael Ferzoco of Eleven Interiors, Amr Raafat, director of virtual design and construction for Windover Construction, and marketing strategist Miana Hoyt Dawson of A.W. Hastings & Co.
Amr Raafat is one architect who helps bring clients’ dreams to virtual reality. That means the ability to “walk” through a job site before a shovel even hits the ground. “Utilizing VR from the start gives our clients the ability to examine the environment, traffic patterns, design constructibility, logistic strategy, and, most importantly, how to avoid hazards through comprehensive safety planning,” wrote Amr Raafat for High Profile last year.
Raafat is the Director of Virtual Design and Construction for Windover Construction and their projects range from academic institutions to custom homes. He’s been in the industry for over 14 years and he’s seen and embraced the technological changes. At 7 Tide, he will cover virtual reality and augmented reality, which guests can try after the discussion. “I would love for everyone to try it,” he says.
At Windover, Raafat says, “Technology for us is really about mitigating risks.” When clients pull on Windover’s VR goggles, they are able to really experience the design: they can see where the stove will be, how the floors look, and—if their home is near the woods—hear the birds chirping outside the windows. After clients have seen the project in virtual reality, they often make a number of changes to the design and layout, which to Raafat is the whole point. “The process increases client satisfaction in the end because they saw everything in the beginning,” he says. In many cases, technology also cuts down on time during and even after projects are complete. “This has been used in training. If we are working on a library, before the library is complete, the staff can be trained on how they will use that space before they are open by using this technology.”
Architect Chris Brown from b Architecture Studio has used BIM for a decade, and while he and his team will still crank out the pencil and paper in the early stages, they are quick to move to the computer, so they can begin to plan around topography or maximize solar exposure.
The real asset of the technology when working with homeowners is being able to offer them full confidence in their plans. “The technology just makes the design a bit more approachable,” says Brown. With flat drawings, it’s difficult to express how the light spills into the kitchen or how rooms are connected. In a Provincetown project that b Architecture Studio designed, the clients planned to have frequent visitors. They wanted ample space to sit and relax, but also imagined grandkids running in and out from the beach. With BIM, Brown’s team was able to demonstrate the traffic flow and how the family could move easily through the space while also having tucked away spaces to enjoy each other’s company.
Brown also pointed out that architects, builders, and designers who are plugged into the same program are really able to function on a higher level as a team. “We are not only able to solve design problems, but we can make everyone involved comfortable with clients’ decisions and clients are able to feel confident in their choices,” he says. He sees the group for the upcoming talk as a perfect representation of the varying perspectives when it comes to the benefits of technology. “This is really a great combination of folks on our panel,” he adds.
Miana Hoyt Dawson, Marketing Strategist for A.W. Hastings & Co., will discuss the role of technology at the Marvin Experience Center at 7 Tide. Here, the main objective is to give clients confidence in their design decisions and to make designing and building a home less stressful and more enjoyable. Interactive stations let clients see, touch, and experience the products. With the projection app, visitors can stand next to an image of window or door and understand what a nine- or ten-foot door will feel like in their new space. At the touch-table, homeowners can choose between custom combinations of wood species and hardware finishes. Marvin Experience Center is also “session-based” which means that the decisions made during their visit can be saved to a curated landing page, which clients can have access to when they leave.
So does this mean sketches are things of the past? “No,” says Raafat. “There will always be a place for pen and paper. Students have to learn the fundamentals and that starts with pen and paper. If you learn the basics well, it will make you a better VR creator.”
Come join the conversation. Light refreshments will be served. Parking is available on site: 7 Tide Street, Boston, Massachusetts.