A new article published by the St. Louis Business Journal focuses on how CannonDesign is using Virtual Reality (VR) to “change the game for St. Louis businesses.” Writer Steph Kukuljan spent time with John McAllister, Ernesto Pacheco and Andrew Petty to learn more about how our design teams are using the technology to strengthen our design processes and ultimately deliver better buildings and spaces to clients.

The article is available online for subscribers, but here are key excerpts:

On leveraging VR with the University of Southern Indiana
Earlier this fall, before a crowd of donors, a University of Southern Indiana student-athlete shot some hoops and made a few baskets – a feat not easily accomplished in the virtual reality format in which he was playing. Ernesto Pacheco and Andrew Petty of CannonDesign, one of St. Louis largest architecture firms, had designed the game within the VR model CannonDesign created for the university’s planned $66 million arena.

“We received incredible, positive feedback and it created a nice buzz for our upcoming season and for what the future looked like,” USI Director of Athletics Jon Mark Hall said of the VR model and 360-degree video of the arena. “Well have one of the nicest Division II facilities in the country… I don’t think there’s any doubt it’s helping with the recruiting process.”

On how VR is changing architecture
Virtual reality has transformed how architecture firms work, not only with their own workflow but with clients who gain a better understanding of the project’s design that ultimately saves money and time. The layers of detail VR provides can reveal design missteps or errors that traditional renderings or construction documents cannot show.

“That sort of ability to take it to a human level allowe dus to totally interact differently with a client,” said CannonDesign Vice President John McAllister, the architect leading the USI project. “The donors were way more engaged when they saw this kid who was a crowd favorite get in (the virtual model) and shoot hoops”

On empowering client feedback
“It’s important to think what your client has access to. We want to make it easy for them as possible, like 360 videos (that are less technical)” CannonDesign’s Petty added. With the USI arena, donors asked more detailed questions like how wide the aisles were going to be, and they seemed to get a sense of depth with the VR model.

“All of these things are allowing us to communicate in different ways and expand the way to communicate ideas with clients.” McAllister said.