NBBJ and Visual Vocal Transform Architecture with VR
NBBJ was featured in Co.Design for its pioneering work integrating virtual reality (VR) into architectural design practice. The firm partnered with startup Visual Vocal to create a VR platform for architects, designed to make collaboration and decision-making easier. The announcement was also reported in media outlets like ArchDaily, Architect, Building Design + Construction, GeekWire, Archinect, and Wired UK.
A long-standing challenge for architecture firms is integrating client feedback quickly and efficiently into workable designs. Trying to get dozens of stakeholders to agree on a design decision is difficult and time-consuming. In addition, conveying ideas through renderings, floor plans, and models is not always clear-cut. The 3D environment of VR is an ideal communication tool for architecture and other disciplines that use 3D data sets, like construction, aerospace, and molecular biology.
Visual Vocal is a cloud-based platform that wants to democratize VR hardware through existing mobile devices. With just a smartphone, a standard VR viewer, and the Visual Vocal app, architects can share project developments with clients in real time. The four corners of the smartphone screen turn into controllers, allowing the user to cycle through potential design choices. Steve McConnell, managing partner of NBBJ, said, “We’re at the threshold of an opportunity to redefine, elevate, and innovate the way design is understood and how stakeholders and the public approve, affect, and co-design projects. VR opens a big door to enable new kinds of dynamic and exciting interactions.”
NBBJ’s clients include large tech firms like Samsung, Google, and Microsoft. In developing the Visual Vocal app, NBBJ feels it is broadening the architect’s toolset in a way that technology companies can understand and embrace. But the app is not designed solely for technologists; its focus is to bring more people into the design conversation, reducing the time it takes for projects to materialize.