When Ralph Cushing and Everett Terrell founded CTA in 1938, they likely wouldn’t have imagined that within a century their firm would be strapping on goggles to tour buildings yet to be built. Assuming they could recover from the shock of this alien tech, though, we like to believe they’d be thrilled: CTA has celebrated its innovative approach to designing spaces for nearly a century, and innovating how we look at designed spaces is a natural and exciting evolution.
The emerging technology of virtual reality has been harnessed for entertainment, space travel and healthcare simulation, meditative therapy, military training, and a number of other practices, including architectural design. The capability creating virtual and explorable spaces allows laypeople to translate technical documents and still renderings into a dynamic, human experience. Don a pair of virtual reality goggles, and suddenly the complicated and potentially intimidating specs, budget, and deadlines are stripped away in favor of a moment of total immersion in the look and feel of a space—something designers are constantly working to represent. It should be mentioned that not everybody adapts to virtual reality with ease, however. Because the technology is so immersive, actually using the goggles can feel very unnatural and off-putting to some. That said, even observing what a person is seeing in the VR environment on a screen can be incredibly informative.