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Looking to the Future of Design Technology

By Rick Arriaga

Senior Associate | Architect

We can all agree that the era of 2D “mono-disciplinary” information is dead—we are firmly in the age of data-rich, real-time multi-disciplinary models. With clients immersed in 3D design review processes and the construction team leveraging valuable information from BIM models, the death of traditional 2D information is all but certain. So, now that most major design firms in the A/E/C have embraced 3D design, there’s a natural question:

What’s next?

At present, everything points to virtual and augmented reality software as the next evolution of the design process. Our team has made limited use of VR technologies to support the client engagement experience—but VR is currently a powerful design review tool, not a design tool.

As of this writing, the technology is not yet available for the architectural design process to embrace VR or AR as our primary tool—in the same way that BIM disrupted the dominance of CAD. Or at least we don’t think it is here yet—then again, it is the nature of disruptive technologies to attain sudden widespread acceptance, catching many off guard.

One area for the future of design technology will be using tools such as 360 cameras and drones to create point cloud models that will give us detailed model information that we can use in our BIM software. These highly accurate models can be used to understand existing conditions and find design solutions while avoiding conflicts. Another technology that will become more relevant is using Pre-Design software to inform design decisions that will lead to more sustainable, efficient, and on budget projects.

As MOA looks to the long term, our challenge is to keep our firm on the path of high performers, of digital change, improvement, and transformation. We must acknowledge the need to adapt to and exploit the technological innovations coming now and in the future. Our team continuously considers and discusses trends, opportunities, and challenges that the next digital transformation may bring, so that we are better prepared when the time comes.

What we can say for sure is that more elaborate immersive technology opportunities for digital collaborative design are coming—and while we don’t know when they will be here, MOA will be ready to jump in and ride that next wave that will transform our industry.