The New World of Virtual Reality in Construction

Virtual building design is making a dramatic impact on the construction industry.

Okay.  You are an architect in Hong Kong, and you’re working with a construction company in San Francisco. You can both “look around” a computerized 3D model of your building (this is not new technology) but now you can also actually feel what it’s like to be right inside the structure by wearing virtual reality (VR) headsets, getting a 360-degree view. And, by wearing the same headsets, you can do this together and make real time changes even if you’re on opposite sides of the world.

Welcome to the world of virtual building design – a big leap for the construction industry, which has traditionally been more interested in bricks than clicks.

Building information modeling (BIM) – or developing a 3D digital prototype of a project – has been trending.  Using 3D gaming technology and cloud-based software, industry leaders are now bringing together building design environments and workflows into a single, navigable view. Users navigate these virtual designs almost like a video game.

The opportunity for reducing errors, keeping tabs on and tracking large complex projects while also saving money (30% of a project’s total budget is usually spent correcting errors not visible in the design stage) are the obvious benefits of this VR computer-aided design. It’s definitely disruptive technology, and it’s spawning new, streamlined building design practices that will change the nature of construction forever.


Can Green Buildings Make Us Smarter?

Green is good -- outside or inside an occupied building.

A recent study published by Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) suggests that Green Buildings create optimized conditions for health and productivity. In a series of experiments, indoor environmental quality (IEQ) factors for both “green” and “conventional” buildings were simulated in a controlled environment that included office workers, and the researchers measured variables such as carbon dioxide variation, ventilation and exposure to volatile organic compounds in the building atmosphere.

The results? On average, cognitive scores for the two groups of workers were 61% higher for those working in a building with green features than with conventional construction.  In other words, green building can potentially deliver a smarter workforce.


Architizer Site Now a Resource for Architects and Builders

Medical library in Dusseldorf, Germany displaying Sto Façade & Glazing materials.

Launched in 2009, Architizer has become the largest business-to-business data resource online for architects, builders and materials suppliers. The site enables design professionals to post images of their projects along with related lists of vendors who provided the building materials required to construct them. Today, the database encompasses the work of 40,000 architecture firms and more than $4 trillion worth of projects.

Architizer thus provides a clever form of “endorsement marketing” in which fellow architects and designers can shop for ideas among the posted projects, which can turn into referrals for suppliers. The site has become a powerful tool for design industry leaders to not only showcase their products, but to learn more about the tremendous range of architectural materials available from suppliers worldwide. For example, there are 47 projects from around the globe that illustrate what can be created using products from Sto. It’s an eye-opener.


The Top 100 American Architecture Projects

The South Florida Headquarters for the FBI by Krueck + Sexton Architects is on ArchDaily Top 100 list Photo Credit © Nick Merrick - Hedrich Blessing

ArchDaily sorted through thousands of architectural projects that have been completed in recent years and highlighted those that — in their opinion — represent milestones for our times. The top 100 projects they chose make for a compelling compilation of case studies and references that can serve as an invaluable resource for the millions of architects, students and industry specialists seeking the nation’s most important and inspiring architectural projects. Many of the architects involved in these projects have provided additional information, including virtual models, interactive plans and high-quality photographic images, as well as the material and product specifications that were used for construction.


New York’s Lofty Archipelago

New York, the city that popularized the skyscraper, now has an abundance of unusually tall ones. There are now 21 buildings – mostly in Manhattan — with roof heights greater than 800 feet; three were completed within the past 36 months.

A number of these high-rise towers are residential developments, including a few needle-like structures that have generated controversy for spoiling views, driving up prices and catering to absentee owners from abroad. However, many of the recent projects represent some of the best work of modern architects from around the world, including Sir Norman Foster’s 50 United Nations Plaza building, which boasts a pool in the penthouse.


Sto Corp. Combines Form and Function at the 2015 AIA Expo

In May, the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA hosted thousands of architects and over 800 construction industry exhibitors for the 2015 AIA Expo. The Georgia World Congress Center boasts over 170,000 square feet of exhibition space and it needed every last bit of it for the AIA Expo, one of the largest gatherings of architects and design professionals in the world. Sto Corp., whose headquarters is based in Atlanta, GA was one of the many exhibitors who participated in this year’s AIA Expo, and they pulled out all the stops. “This year AIA was in our hometown so we wanted to do something bold, new and clearly distinct from previous years,” said Valerie Mayer, Sto Corp.’s Manager of Marketing Communications. To reinforce Sto Corp’s connection to the larger Sto global family, this year’s AIA booth included a gallery of high profile projects from around the world featuring a variety of Sto’s different wall systems and building envelope solutions.    Among the various systems and solutions that Sto had to display were samples of Sto’s Ventec rainscreen cladding systems. The Ventec systems offer the highest degree of performance in terms of long term sustainability and durability. Largely a green system, Sto’s unique StoVentec carrier board is made from 96% recycled glass. StoVentec systems feature a myriad of aesthetic and design options including glass mosaic, natural stone, and even photovoltaic façades. Throughout the booth, Sto’s four core values; innovation, relationship, performance, and sustainability; were represented. Amongst the innovations being presented were StoPanel Technologies pre-fabricated façade systems. “Unlike other panelized facades, StoPanel Technology is the only system that uses standardized materials, details, and design considerations. We have built a network of contractors and engineers across the Americas who are sharing best practices and constructing the same superior panelized wall systems regardless of design or location,” said Dominick Baruffi, executive director of StoPanel Technology. All Sto wall systems begin with Sto’s industry leading air and moisture barrier system, StoGuard. This year’s booth included a number of videos showing that air tightness and moisture resistance with StoGuard is not only durable enough to last the lifetime of a building, but can be installed much more simply than more conventional systems.    Of course excellent building performance means little if the building is an eyesore, which is why Sto chose to show off its more creative side as well. “Form and function should go hand in hand. Architecture really is functional art,” said Billy Rosbottom, manager of Sto Studio. An inspiration wall on the outside of the Sto’s booth showed off a variety of different aesthetic options that could easily be achieved using Sto’s various different finishes, as well as natural elements that helped […]