GTC 2017: Using VR to design buildings

  • New Nvidia campus is scheduled to open in November 2017 on budget
  • VR helps architects to communicate their vision while saving costs


GTC 2017: Using VR to design buildings


CONSTRUCTING a building is no easy task. There are lots of details, checks and balances that need to be made before construction even begins.

But despite all that, with traditional methods of planning and building, the end result is often different from what is on the plans. Frustratingly this often results in last minute changes during construction that inflate the cost of the building.

Nvidia believes that it has the perfect solution to solve this long-standing problem by way of utilising Virtual Reality (VR) in the design process.

It seems only fitting that Nvidia, a company specialising in high-performance computing, would leverage of its own technology to design its new campus in Santa Clara, which is scheduled to be ready by November 2017.

The sparkling two-story campus building resembles a massive triangle when viewed from above in the architect’s rendering of the campus.

It is a shape that aptly defines the identity of the technology company that has for the longest time been at the cutting edge of computer graphics. Incidentally, the polygons used in the composition of three-dimensional models are basically made up of triangles.

But there is a more practical reason for the design as Nvidia chief executive officer and founder Jensen Huang wanted the new campus to act as a centre for collaboration and innovation.

Over the course of designing the new campus in the past five years, Nvidia senior director for real estate and site services John O’Brien explained that the company has extensively employed its Iray rendering technology to generate photorealistic imagery and simulating the physical behaviour of light and materials.

Performing lighting simulation allowed them to design the building so that maximises the use natural lighting to illuminate the common meeting areas and workstations.


GTC 2017: Using VR to design buildings


Gensler, the architecture firm behind the campus, principal studio director Hao Ko (pic, above) said VR had greatly benefited him during the entire process as it allowed him to effectively communicate his ideas.

Ko said the biggest barrier for architects is communicating our vision to stakeholders is visualising two-dimensional plans in three dimensions.

The use of Iray in VR also helped Ko decide on the placement of the hundreds of skylights that pepper the roof of the building to let the right amount of light in.

With VR, he was also able to walk key decision makers like Huang through the site and get immediate feedback that he could then apply to the design.

“Getting feedback and making changes early on in the design process saves a great deal of cost rather than making those changes during the construction period, so VR does bring about great cost savings for builders,” he said.

With that, here is a sneak peek at the new Nvidia campus in Santa Clara:


Chong Jinn Xiung reports from GTC 2017 in San Jose, at the invitation of Nvidia. All editorials are independent.


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