Technology has been a hot topic in the news lately, even here on our blog. As advancements are made, we test, adapt and adopt new tools that keep our crews safer and improve communications and efficiency, ultimately saving both time and money.
AUGMENTED + VIRTUAL REALITY [AR/VR] are blurring the lines where design and construction intersect. Gone are the bulky headsets and big, yet unrealized dreams of virtually exploring a project. Today we use AR/VR tools that are accessible via mobile phones and tablets. Throughout design and preconstruction, the project team can quickly iterate designs, understand complex ideas and identify constructability issues before they become expensive rework during construction. Providing a virtual tour of a new structure to its future occupants is a useful way to inform and potentially alleviate negative feedback. Once construction begins, AR/VR’s role graduates to quality control. For example, we use AR to evaluate proposed MEP systems in existing spaces and catch conflicts prior to installation.
If you’re not familiar with GLY’s Interiors | Special Projects [ISP] team, they are an agile, scalable division that works on, well, special projects. From surgical rooms and historic landmarks to aircraft and fine tea showrooms, they are experts at working in unique, usually occupied, environments. AR is especially helpful in spatial planning. In one instance, ISP used it to help a client decide on the perfect size for a large conference table and in another they employed AR/VR to design and plan the logistics of a show-stopping staircase that involved cutting holes through three floors of concrete.
On a recent project spanning six levels of office and amenity space, the team used 360-DEGREE PHOTOGRAPHY [e.g. HoloBuilder] to document and review progress. Special cameras that capture and stitch images together enabled the LA-based architect to virtually walk through the space during monthly status updates without stepping foot on a plane.
Complimenting AR/VR technologies is LASER SCANNING. Instead of spending days measuring and documenting a built space, a laser scanner produces 3D point clouds that are accurate to 1/100th of an inch within just a few hours. Needless to say, that type of accuracy is not needed on most construction projects.
On a recent lobby renovation, the as-built drawings were found to be a full 18 inches off in an area requiring custom cut material. Using the laser scanner, the team was able to verify the dimensions prior to ordering the material and the fit, to date, has been meticulous.
On another project where accuracy was highly valued, the client used the 3D model produced from a laser scan to identify camera and other equipment locations to ensure security goals were met. Early adoption of this technology is proving to be a win-win-win for our projects, clients and design partners.
Behind the scenes we use tools like DRONES and hand-held INFRARED CAMERAS for inspections and documentation. Drones can reach places that are unsafe for crews—performing tasks such as a roof inspection. Infrared cameras, used to measure heat differences, uncover wear or defects in construction not usually noticeable to the human eye. This is a great tool for analyzing a building skin and locating water intrusion paths. This information helps clients make educated decisions on envelope maintenance and renovations.
Our goal is to make the delivery of a project a great experience for everyone involved. Smart use of technology maximizes efficiency, speed and value and as technology evolves, GLY’s work methods advance as well.