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Using virtual reality for your site and facility projects

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Infrastructure is ever changing and evolving. Therefore, it is no surprise that technology advancements are making their way into every part of design and construction, with virtual reality (VR) being one of those more recent—particularly when working on site development and facility design projects.

VR refers to computer technology that simulates a real environment for users. While VR’s first applications were mostly for entertainment and gaming, this technology is quickly establishing itself as a useful tool for visualizing site and facility designs during the planning phase.

Virtual first-person perspectives allow users to experience designs beyond measurements on sheets of paper. Instead, thanks to VR technology, staff and even prospective clients can enter site and facility models and see how they will feel in real life.

Ultimately, the goal of using VR is not only to arrive at better designs that save costs and increase efficiencies, but also to help see if projects function in the ways that users and clients desire before construction starts.

As an example, the City of Jefferson, Missouri is exploring the potential to construct a large pedestrian/bike bridge. The proposed project would connect the City’s Capitol Complex to an adjacent 30-acre island on the Missouri River. The bridge, proposed to be constructed in the design of connected rail cars, would provide a platform to interpret intermodal transportation as it takes users across the Union Pacific Railroad Tucucari Line to the Missouri River.

To illustrate the experience of travelling across this potential bridge, Bartlett & West created a video fly-through of the proposed design but also shared VR goggles with the local Parks and Recreation Commission and City Council members. This allowed them to experience the potential of the project in virtual first-person.

As the Jefferson City mayor expressed, “Seeing the concept is really incredible, especially the video when you go through the train cars on the bridge. [It] is really breathtaking and exciting.”

The video rendering of this potential project can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StkViW9fubc

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