Seeing is believing – it’s clearly a cliché. But as WithersRavenel professionals learn as we expand our Advanced Visualization (AV) capabilities, seeing is much more than believing. Seeing is communicating. Seeing is understanding. And seeing leads to better-informed decision-making.
Yates Austin is a Senior Designer for WithersRavenel, but his title only scratches the surface of his job. As a designer focused on visualization, his skill set and the technology he employs in 3D modeling unlocks a world of possibilities for both public and private clients.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a 3D model is worth a thousand CAD drawings,he said.
At its heart, AV is the utilization of software to create 3D models of existing or planned buildings, roads, sites, and other physical items. The possibilities grow as a 3D model, of a new building for example, is placed on a proposed site. And while 3D modeling is hardly new, WithersRavenel’s commitment to fully utilizing AV for our clients is a valuable service.
Austin described a recent project for a government client. The client asked: What would the addition of new buildings and an athletic field look like in relation to existing sites? By utilizing AV, WithersRavenel created 3D models of the potential new buildings, along with existing ones, and placed them on the property. We provided the client with aerial images and views from different ground perspectives.
While that example utilized AV in the preliminary stages of a potential project, Austin says AV can be used throughout the life of the project. AV can educate, inform, and empower clients, and also allow WithersRavenel employees to make better decisions during planning and design phases, encouraging greater collaboration during the project process.
Even people who have been doing designs and drawings for years, if you threw something at them that was outside their area of expertise, say a pipeline or a ship or an airplane, looking at that drawing without the experience to understand it could be daunting and you’re not going to have the background to understand what’s been going on,Austin said. 3D modeling takes all of that away. It’s really putting the vision, whether it is the client’s vision, our vision, or the architect’s vision, out there in a way that just about anybody could understand. It’s a communication tool.”
Our firm’s intentionality behind Advanced Visualization removes the technical barrier between our client’s goals and their completed project,said Daryl Riggins, WithersRavenel’s Director of Facilities and a leader on our Advanced Visualization team. Using AV, their project is accessible for anyone to understand at any stage of the design process. This ensures that what is built matches what is envisioned.”
As a communication tool for a non-engineering client or audience, showing AV models brings a project to life, often unleashing a flood of questions. What would it look like if the building were a dozen feet this way? Can you show us from this perspective? The technology immediately gives the viewer control, allowing them to become an active part of the design conversation.
AV can also bridge divides, showing what tangible benefits exist in situations that, perhaps previously, led to anger or frustration. AV can reduce time for acceptance, buy-in or to make decisions.
A recent project for a private business client led to understanding and a better perspective at a proposed building site. The client is considering multiple buildings for a site near a new highway.
In conversation with the client, our engineer said, ‘We’re going to be able to get this number of square feet of buildings in this area, we’re going to be working with these ground floor elevations and roof elevations’,Austin said. You’re throwing all these numbers at the client, but they can’t see it. They don’t know what you are telling them. They reached out to us to help show what we are telling them.”
The visualization will help them decide whether or not to develop on the property, where they could locate buildings on the property, what size the buildings would be,Austin said. The client could see how potential buildings related to one another, how environmental site features would have to be considered, and how the highway development affected the entirety of the site. Buildings could be moved around the site in real-time with the client, adding to understanding while illustrating potential flexibility where it existed.
Similarly, another project example involved a private client that wanted to add two buildings to an existing site owned by the client. WithersRavenel was able to incorporate an architect’s models for the new buildings and landscape architecture, along with AV of the current site design and buildings, to give a full perspective of what the site would look like. This perspective can be much more effective as a communication tool than flat drawings on paper.
When you can show as a company what something looks like before you’ve started working on it, it also shows them that you have the capability technically of taking you there,Austin said.
WithersRavenel’s growth and greater focus on AV was born out of the WR Works initiative, which solicits innovative ideas company-wide and works to put the best ones into practice. An additional point of emphasis is Augmented Reality (AR), which would take AV to another level. WithersRavenel is already exploring AR as a solution for presenting design data in new ways that enhance client understanding and decision-making, and hopes to offer AR services in the future.
With more than 15 years of experience with advanced visualization, Austin believes as AR grows it can be a game-changer for the engineering industry. Advancements on the horizon could include clients and designers interacting around virtual reality buildings as avatars, seeing the creations from that perspective. We could potentially make design changes in real-time from that perspective,he said.
There are other options for AV and AR as well, including the visualization of things that can’t be seen well, such as underground utilities. That’s one reason we are looking so hard at Augmented Reality right now, its use for sewer work or underground water pipes,Austin said.
WithersRavenel is excited about the 3D modeling opportunities available for clients through Advanced Visualization and Augmented Reality. Do you have a project that could benefit from these services? Please contact Director of Facilities Daryl Riggins at (919) 238-0306 or email@example.com.