Case study: How clients benefit from VR

Virtual reality can aid in the client’s experience and overall acceptance of the project’s design

By Joel Martineau, Jim Marchese and James Mazza October 30, 2020

Before wrapping up the design development phase, the team invited the client to the Stantec office for an interior design presentation and virtual reality tour to receive final approval. Often, the team finds that showing just plans, elevations and 3D views is not enough to properly convey design intent. As designers, it is second nature to mentally place ourselves in the spaces the team has created and imagine how it will feel once built. The Stantec team uses VR as a communication tool to allow clients to understand spaces in the same manner.

During the presentation, the client expressed concern about a focal ceiling element that was shown in a rendering. The Stantec team used our words, hand motions and reflected ceiling plans to try to explain how it would feel better when standing in the space. The client was still not convinced and was hesitant to approve the design. The team gave the client a VR headset and allowed them to occupy the space and understand the design from a 360 perspective. Having the opportunity to use VR technology allowed us to clearly communicate our concept to the client and gain their consent to proceed.

There is a misconception that VR is only useful for aiding clients with understanding aesthetic elements of a project. Our engineers are using VR to validate spatial requirements in crowded plant rooms with client facilities management teams.

For an urban infill project located in the city center, the team provided engineering services. The mixed-use nature of the project led the design team to incorporate a midheight plant room to serve retail and restaurant in the lower floors from above and the hotel on the upper floors from below. Due to the tight constraints of limited floor plate and floor-to-floor height, it was imperative to develop a detailed plant room during the early stages of the project.

The team modeled the ventilation system, hot- and cold-water supply and heat generation plant along with the structural framing system to assist with optimizing the minimum required clearances. A series of stereoscopic panoramas were then generated to prove and validate that sufficient space allowances were provided in front of all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems with the stakeholders.

In both scenarios, our Stantec team used the power of virtual design to strengthen the interaction with the clients. By using technology to foster innovation and creativity, the team is improving the design, delivery and handover of buildings to the occupants.

Author Bio: Joel Martineau is a senior business solutions analyst at Stantec. Jim Marchese is a senior business solutions analyst at Stantec. James Mazza is an application developer at Stantec.