Last week, Mechdyne hosted Chicago-area architects, engineers, and city planners at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s (UIC) Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) for an evening of virtual reality (VR) and networking. Each attendee had the chance to step into EVL’s CAVE2 Hybrid Reality Environment and see a variety of 2D renderings of the Chicago Riverwalk in the context of a 3D model of the city, all as part of the Chicago River Edges Ideas Lab expansion initiative. Professionals from the architectural community, including some from the architectural firms participating in this project, joined us at EVL to see their designs in the full-scale, 3D context of the city. Seeing the exciting and innovative ideas for the expansion project is unreal until you put it in the context of VR. We took our guests through the city to see the 2D concepts on billboards placed within the 3D renderings of the city, making the designs easier to visualize, explore, and imagine in real-life.

The Value of VR in Architecture, Design & Build

Architectural walk-throughs are ideal applications for virtual reality, and this event proved that for many attendees. By experiencing it for themselves, our guests realized just how freely and simply they could navigate walk-throughs and designs in a complex VR system like a CAVE2. The architects and engineers saw and interacted with their designs in full-scale and, as a result, identified potential challenges their designs could pose on the existing infrastructure. This immersive experience sparked the collaborative discussions in the CAVE2 about possible alternatives within the design and development considerations, all before breaking ground.

I was especially excited to see such instinctual collaboration between these visitors who had never met before. The CAVE2, although a complex piece of technology, makes human interaction and collaboration simple, allowing creative strangers to comfortably brainstorm and troubleshoot alternatives to the Riverwalk concepts.

For many of our guests, this demonstration was only the beginning. We saw the wheels spinning as some people asked about how virtual reality and interactive technology could be applied in museums or virtual showrooms and stores. Are you wondering how VR can benefit your design workflow and capabilities? Feel free to contact me to talk more about it!

Thank You to Our Partners

Thank you to all our partners in planning and hosting this event, including the Metropolitan Planning Council, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, WSP, the Chicago River Edges Ideas Lab, and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory.