The designing of architectural spaces provides unique challenges, especially when those spaces are intended to serve specific functions as well. The Ross School of Business recently constructed a new building which strived to meet the needs of the school’s faculty and students. Within the new construction was a plan for new U shaped classrooms. Since the design was unlike what many have used in the past and their effectiveness during daily classes was in question, the School of Business planned to construct test sites so faculty could experience the room before it was built. These test sites were typical of movie sets costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. If changes needed to be made, the site would need to be reconstructed to the new plans.
Dean Graham Mercer, approached the University of Michigan 3D Lab looking for a more cost effective solution to identifying problems in the design earlier on. Through the use of the Virtual Reality MIDEN, which has the distinct ability to display virtual worlds at true 1-to-1 scale, faculty from the School of Business was able to experience the proposed classrooms prior to the physical construction of the space and offer suggestions with confidence. This process cost the school a fraction of building physical test sites and allowed for rapid turn around on any additions they needed.
The new classrooms can now be seen in the Ross School of Business on Central Campus.