How Virtual Reality is Changing the Way We Work

Virtual reality has long been envisioned, and now it's finally here—changing the way we design and giving our clients new tools to bolster their marketing efforts. From standing in a digital representation of a building to collaboratively working together in a virtual world, the implications of VR are exciting and far-reaching.

In this design technology video update D/P/S designers and technology experts Brandon Garrett and Mackenzie Greene-Powell discuss how virtual reality works, its impact on design, and what it means for our clients in commercial real estate, health care, and other industries.

Why Virtual Reality Matters for Business


Commercial real estate developers and brokers don't have to wait for construction before showing space to potential tenants. Virtual tours enable prospective tenants to fully experience the lighting, the rooms, the furnishings, and even the views. Through VR, developers and brokers can speed up sales and leases of apartment units, retail space, and offices.


Virtual reality even has implications for health care. Patients who are unable to go outdoors, due to a compromised immune system or other circumstances, can still experience healing gardens and scenery through VR. These types of therapeutic applications can give patients respite from their rooms and enhance the patient experience.

Rendering of Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center
Rendering of Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center.


Real-time feedback in a photorealistic, 360-degree model is a powerful design tool. It gives us and our clients the ability to point to a detail in the virtual model and select different materials to apply to a surface or object.

These real-time design selections let us better understand how lighting and other variables will behave in the space. It also provides a robust final presentation that can have numerous applications, including marketing a project to investors, tenants, and users.


While we're still a few years out from Social VR, we're seeing a huge investment in creating this platform. Facebook is currently developing this technology so users across the globe can occupy the same virtual space simultaneously.

Imagine a group of urban designers manipulating large-scale plans through a collaborative and comprehensive virtual model. Needless to say, we're excited about this!

How It Works: Virtual Reality Headsets

GOOGLE CARDBOARD  (gives you the basics)

If you're looking to reach a large group of people—say for a virtual reality groundbreaking like the one for Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center—then Google Cardboard is for you. The headset, as its name suggests, is made from cardboard, so it's affordable and easy to customize for your brand. Plus, it only requires a smart phone to load the virtual scene.

At the groundbreaking for Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center attendees pulled out their smart phones, inserted them into the branded Google Cardboards, and loaded a model of the completed hospital. Viewers had a chance to explore the design in 360-degree views as construction was just beginning.

OCULUS RIFT  (the real deal)

This is the mother of VR. With integrated speakers, two sensors to track your position, and motion controllers that bring your hands into the virtual space, the Oculus Rift provides a fully immersive virtual experience.

Virtual Reality Trees
VR Model Looking Up At Trees.

In a photorealistic environment powered by state-of-the-art graphics processors, users can walk through the model and interact with the environment. Some of the interactive features include the ability to pick up objects, open doors, push buttons, see wind blowing through trees, and experience 3D audio in which sound sources grow louder as the user nears.

Tell Us About Your Project

The promise and possibilities of virtual reality are quickly affecting businesses in all industries. VR is an exciting frontier that we will continue to explore. If you're interested in seeing what virtual reality can do for you, tell us about your project, and we will work with you to develop a model that suits your needs.