December 6, 2017

The Road to VR: Our Office’s Leap into Virtual Reality

( 12 milestones of virtual reality ; https://versus.com/en/news/the-12-milestones-in-the-history-of-virtual-reality)

A Brief History of Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) has been a long fascination of “techies” for decades. It began in the 1950’s with the “sensorama”. Marketed as “the cinema of the future”, it incorporated multisensory elements such as aromas, body tilting, projection of 3D imagery, and wind bursts. Falling short of its romanticized goals, the interest was largely forgotten by the public for decades.  In 1985, NASA adapted a helmet for astronauts to control robots and mechanisms outside the space station, which mitigated the hazards of the physical environs, such as radiation, space debris, and being set adrift. This innovation, called the VVED (Virtual Visual Environment Display), successfully emulated a 360 degree environment. Again, the innovation largely fell by the wayside until 2011. As cell phones became increasingly more powerful, more avenues of mobility and technology converged, which opened new (or rather old) doors of creativity. Enter the iPhone Virtual Reality Viewer. When this consumer-friendly product came to market, it re-ignited a VR craze for a third time. The popularity of cell phone viewers encouraged large corporations such as HTC, Oculus/Facebook, and PlayStation to invest serious capital into developing affordable, widely accessible systems (ensuring the technology was here to stay). Today, Virtual Reality has broad applications beyond entertainment and gaming; it has become an invaluable resource for industries such as healthcare, education, the military, and architecture.

Theory and Research in HCI: Morton Heilig, Pioneer in Virtual Reality Research; 19 Sept 2008; Break out your Nintendo virtual boy, VR is (almost) here!

Investigating VR Hardware for our Office

When our office committed to investing in a VR system, we committed hours of research and testing for the most immersive experience possible. After exhaustive research, our office established that portability, power, and expandability were the primary priorities.

As a response to portability, an Alienware 15 laptop was selected. The critical spec include the following; i7-7820HK processor, 16GB DDR4 @2667 MHZ of ram, 512 SSD(boot drive) + 1TB SATA, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 w/ 8 GB GDDR5 graphics card. We concluded that this was not only the most powerful initial build, but also the most scalable model; Alienware’s build philosophy allows for expandable computers and even provides diagrams for do-it-yourself upgrading. In our experience, the concept has been successful and still allows us to anticipate evolutions in the technology as it becomes more developed and sophisticated.

The VR hardware we chose was the Oculus headset with Oculus Touch controllers and three room-bounding sensors. Being more compact than their competitors and having their center of gravity around your hands (as opposed to in front of the users hands), the Oculus Touch allows the controllers to disappear while within the VR environment. The button locations and angles are also ergonomically based to produce the same result. Most importantly, high-use button controls are exactly where you expect and want them to be. In contrast, the menu buttons are designed to be out of the way, so they are only accessed with intention, not by accident. For the full emersion to be believed, the experience needed to be intuitive and mitigate factors that could dissolve the illusion, such as buttons being unintentionally pressed. Ideally, the goal of Virtual Reality is that the device itself should become the invisible framework, allowing creativity (or fun) to occur unabated.  With all these considerations, The Oculus became the obvious choice and has since been reinforced after their announcement that a wireless headset is in development.

We also have chosen to connect most of the assembly into the “Dell DisplayLink 4k Plug and Play”. This allows multiple USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 connections WITHOUT loss of signal or downgrading the signal. The added benefit is having a consolidated and cleaner setup. The displaylink also allows us to project onto a screen and/or mobile TV display in order to enhance communication to those outside of the head set. We chose our software based on seamless integration into our current workflow and quality of the output. As secondary criterion, it needed to have an intuitive interface, both in the VR environment and the software’s user interface itself. The first software chosen as our platform was intended to be the icebreaker for the firm and allow everyone to easily understand how critical it was to start our entry and participation into this community.

An important dimension of adopting VR into the office was designating and equipping appropriate areas to use it. A permanent VR workspace was established in our office, as well as a portable workspace, which allows designers to bring the device to clients, interviews, and even home to develop projects/ideas at their leisure (or as necessary).

University of South Carolina - Beaufort | Hospitality Management Center | Main Entry Section

Informing the Design Process

Virtual Reality has the ability to solve many of our contemporary problems. How do we streamline our workflow? Can this workflow incorporate 3D visuals? How do we not duplicate work to produce a rendering? Can the rendering communicate back to our initial “production” models? How can we have more productive meetings with clients? Do they accurately understand our concepts? These are just a few of the many questions the current VR technology/software has started to answer.

Informing the Design Process: Between Architect and Architect

Design is ever changing, and as a building evolves, it is a daunting task to catch and fully develop every possible detail which could arise. Virtual Reality is a quick way to actually jump into the drawings and see what hasn’t been developed, what is missing, and what hasn’t even been thought of yet. This is all possible with the pairing of Revit and Enscape through the eyes of the Oculus Rift. It is also a great platform to ensure an idea will have the intended result, without having to wait until experiencing the built product. We can become fully immersed within the new idea moments after its conception and determine if it is the best direction for the project… and most importantly, still during design. 

Revit isn’t a new software by industry standards, but Bialosky Cleveland is beginning to unlock its true potential. By enhancing Revit and creating a Virtual Reality experience, project teams can walk through their project in its infancy and easily spot potential trouble areas and conditions. Enscape allows for the team to discuss an issue, create several solutions to the problem, and even switch between these results quickly to make a decision all within a matter of minutes.

Cuyahoga Community College | Metro Campus Center

Informing the Design Process: Between Architect and Consultant

It is imperative during the design phase of a project that all members of the team coordinate their respective responsibilities in order to create a beautiful, functional end result. Virtual Reality is a quick and effective way to enhance this collaboration. When each discipline produces their drawings in Revit, Virtual Reality is able to efficiently show where conflicts arise. Coordinating the puzzle above the ceiling grid takes a lot of time and attention to detail but imagine being in the ceiling and seeing all of the mechanical and plumbing in front of your eyes. This is possible with Virtual Reality and again, allows for quick solutions. We hope to further integrate this technology to all in-house disciplines to assist in coordination meetings.

Private Office | New York, NY

Informing the Design Process: Between Architect and Client

Virtual Reality can also enrich communication with the client similar to how it aids within the design team. As designers, we sometimes forget that not everyone we work with has the same training as we do and everyone has different abilities in translating 2D drawings into a 3D space. By shifting the focus in the drawing process from 2D drawings into 3D modeling, the concept and intent of a particular form and design decision comes alive to everyone. A client can see their space more clearly, and with far fewer explanations of what a design decision will look like. Additionally, virtual models with the aid of VR can help publicize an upcoming facility to potential users, renters, and even project donors. Bialosky Cleveland recently completed a series of donor events for a private school in collaboration with the administration. Our team was able to walk the group through the vision for the space, address the school’s future, and demonstrate how their teaching aspirations would be accomplished in the space.

Joseph & Florence Mandel Jewish Day School | Beachwood, OH

Benefits Beyond Design: Construction Administration

Modeling created specifically for VR can also be useful as a communication tool during construction. A majority of the questions that arise during construction are caused by a miscommunication between team members. The virtual model allows for the designer to quickly export views to assist in clarifying or solving a given issue. This allows for timely responses to field questions and expedited, accurate solutions to keep projects on budget and on schedule.

Joseph & Florence Mandel Jewish Day School | Beachwood, OH

Not Just for Work, but for Fun

Virtual Reality can certainly enhance the workflow and outcome of the design process, but it also can be a fun team activity for staff.  We hosted a game night in mid-September for employees and their families to play diverse games together. Everything from a typical game night was there: card games, board games, console games, Oculus Rift games, and even pizza and soda for fuel. The Oculus was a big hit for every age group and let staff and family alike to gather, play, and experience this new technology together.

November 21, 2016

Bialosky Cleveland Honored for Recent Work and Service at Cleveland Design Awards

On Friday night, a record-breaking 500 people from the Cleveland architecture and design community gathered at the sparkling new Hilton Cleveland Downtown for the annual AIA/IIDA Cleveland Design Awards. An impressive, diverse pool of projects by local architects were showcased and honored, by juries led by Roberto de Leon, FAIA and Christopher Stulpin, IIDA. It was a magnificent affair, with an uplifting spirit of collegiality and unity from the design community.

Bialosky Cleveland earned three design awards for recent projects. Also, three of our employees were individually recognized. Congratulations to our teams behind The Schofield, Roberta A. Smith University Library, and our own offices.

Congratulations to Chris Persons and Kate Walker, two of our recent grads, who also took home honors for their grad work at Kent State University! Also, the President's Citation was awarded to our own Hallie DelVillan for her service and leadership in the chapter, and her commitment to advancing equity in the profession.

More posts to come, that will profile these award-winning projects.
Congrats to all our peers who were also recognized, and to every firm who submitted this year!

Project Awards

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IIDA Best Small Corporate Office
Bialosky Cleveland Offices
Bialosky Team: Jack Alan Bialosky, Jr., Paul Deutsch, Paul Taylor, Mandisa Gosa, Philip Erb, Chelsey Finnimore

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IIDA Best Education Project
Roberta A. Smith University Library
Muskingum University
Bialosky Team: Bruce Horton, Brandon Garrett, Tracy Sciano Vajskop, Philip Erb, Nick Dilisio

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AIA Merit Award
Project Name:  The Schofield
Bialosky Team: Paul Deutsch, Ryan Parsons, Theodore Ferringer
Architect:  STUDIOCRM, Inc., Bialosky Cleveland and Sandvick Architects

 

Individual Awards

AIA Student Merit Award
Chris Persons, for Drydock No. 2

IIDA Student Honorable Mention
Kate Walker, for SCFBC

President's Citation
Hallie DelVillan

 

July 5, 2016

Bialosky + APE Made

Local artist April Bleakney of APE Made, was commissioned to create an original piece with a street-art flavor that payed homage to Midtown Cleveland—home to Bialosky’s new office located at 6555 Carnegie Ave. She graciously took on the task by creating a bold, screen-print and mixed-media statement piece that would complement the overall simple and clean aesthetic of the office space.

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April Bleakney's original mixed-media piece

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Large-Scale Installation in Bialosky Cleveland's 6555 Carnegie Ave. office space

As I stepped into APE Made’s unique E. 40th Street studio, I am greeted by one of April’s two cherished dogs, while the tunes of “A tribe Called Quest” hummed in the background. We sit down to discuss the commissioned piece and April’s love of art.

April's E. 40th St. Studio

April's E. 40th St. Studio

What was your goal when asked to create a custom piece for our office?  [My goal was to] use artistic freedom to highlight Cleveland’s “Midtown” area in a positive way and to bring out its many textures.

Tell me a little bit about the piece and your process? The images stem from photographs taken of the E. 40th community while out walking my dogs (Spliff & BB).  Forms that depict the landscape and architecture of Midtown past and present ground the piece. The images of a bridge and water tower were edited within Photoshop until the desired composition was reached; then came the process of screen printing and painting. The chosen color palette reflects the neighborhood - "once bright blues and greens that have become faded and earthy with time, forming rusty warms, and grays". Transparent ink was used to get the desired depth and texture. Warm red and cyan blue were introduced to complement the colors of Bialosky’s space.

Education:  Graduate of Kent State University (BFA ’08)

Origin of APE Made: April began screen printing as a secondary source of income in her Kent, OH basement. Five years ago “APE Made” took flight, and is widely known today for their hand screen printed products (clothing, posters, etc.) that showcase Cleveland and local regions in a positive, well-crafted manner.  

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APE Made is widely known today for their hand screen printed, Cleveland centric products .

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April's work is Inspired by the Cleveland landscape

Who/What Inspires You? The Cleveland Landscape; Makers movement (D.I.Y) and social issues going on in Cleveland and throughout the country.

Your Alternate Reality Career? National Geographic Photographer.

Hidden Talent:Scratching” (A DJ and turntablist technique used to produce distinctive percussive or rhythmic sounds and sound effects by moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable while optionally manipulating the crossfader on a DJ mixer. (Wikipedia.com)

April in her element.

April in her element.

For additional information about APE MADE visit.

https://apemadeohio.com/

http://www.apemade.etsy.com/

June 24, 2016

Three Dimensional Coordination Detailing

The production and execution of the built environment are not separate endeavors, but are byproducts of a truly collaborative relationship between the architect and builder through a common language. Coordination sketches are the vehicles of collaboration, with the power to reaffirm design intent through constructability, stitching the design and construction processes together. Often, these sketches are restricted to the two-dimensional realm of construction drawing overlays, but as technology evolves so can our visual language and ability to communicate three dimensionally. These details respond directly to the growing complexity of building systems in unique conditions where revisions to two-dimensional details will propagate confusion across multiple trades and project teams.

In 2015, Bialosky Cleveland and Walsh Construction Group endeavored to improve coordination through shared Building Information Modelling (BIM) and three-dimensional coordination sketches, when required, at the American Greetings Tech West Building in Westlake, Ohio. As an extension of the American Greetings Creative Studios and Headquarters, the project is located immediately to the South of Crocker Park. Inherent to the large amount of concurrent growth at Crocker Park, the project required intense collaboration between multiple project teams with the same completion date of Summer 2016.

AG-CP Team Divisions REV

In all of these projects, Bialosky Cleveland is the common thread with varying roles, empowering a collaborative attitude on-site. By nature of the project location, adjacency and programming there were a number of items that required a greater level of collaboration which illustrate how project complexities were resolved through three-dimensional coordination sketches.

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The project’s primary design gesture includes opening up the corner with glazing, highlighting the planar expression of the brick façade, which is continued through the parapet. To execute the design intent properly, a series of sequencing diagrams were generated and included in the construction documents illustrating how the insulated metal panel wall is to be flashed into the brick wall assembly. These diagrams acted as a tool to guide work in the field without being unnecessarily prescriptive.

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A challenge ever present in the design and detailing of Tech West was its siting with two facades bound by a 5 floor parking garage, requiring (2) two-hour fire walls separated by an air space. Both walls bear on a shared foundation with building expansion joints by two separate project teams, leading to a series of critical coordination details that responded to changing project schedules and construction sequencing.


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SKA-17 Precast Axonometric Detail
The stair and elevator core of the parking garage provided an added challenge as it rises above the Tech West parapet before falling to a guardrail height precast parapet. The use of three-dimensional detailing helped expedite discussions of scope ownership and responsibility in the field, evolving as agreements were made by all parties to clarify the path ahead.

Concurrent to the resolving of the building expansion joint details was the drainage at the base of the building separation airspace, which was required to be connected to the Tech West storm water. Here, timing was critical as grouting and caulking had to be coordinated by both projects to ensure constructability while maintaining the integrity of the drain path.

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Issues related to site/context presented a different set of challenges as Tech West has no true site scope of its own, but is bound by Crocker Park Phase Three to the North and the American Greetings Creative Studios and Headquarters Plaza to the East and South. As Tech West came into being after the Plaza was designed, revisions and site coordination had to be finalized per grading and egress requirements to set the through wall flashing elevation prior to construction of the brick veneer façade. The three-dimensional sketch concisely reconciled information from 3 projects, turning a potentially lengthy coordination effort into a brief conference call without holding up construction progress.

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These coordination snapshots only offer a glimpse into a lengthy and complex process, but highlight the critical need for a collaborative approach to the construction administration effort. In all of this, American Greetings and Mark G. Anderson Consultants, played a critical role in expediting the approval process, making comprehensive sketches evermore important in closing the feedback loop. For any language to be universal it has to be legible, and three-dimensional construction details, when required, ensure the designer and contractor are on the same page. The American Greetings Tech West Building is an example of how collaboration can improve in the field throughout the building process as projects and adjacencies grow in complexity to ensure design intent is not lost.

April 5, 2016

Building the Bialosky Brand

2016 has brought along quite a few changes here at Bialosky—new projects, new hires, a new place to call home at 6555 Carneige Ave, a new name, and a new brand identity to celebrate and highlight these exciting milestones.

The first step in rebranding was to clearly define our promise to our clients and the process though which we make that promise a reality. To do this, we took a step back to analyze our design process and the values we hold as a firm. This introspection allowed us to define the four core values through which we interpret all aspects of the work we do: innovative, responsive, enduring, and beautiful. These four words and their corresponding promise were the jumping off point for the creation of the new Bialosky Cleveland identity.

Sketch, Discuss, Revise, Repeat

The cornerstone of the new identity is the name shift from 'Bialosky + Partners Architects' to simply 'Bialosky Cleveland.' Although we didn't intend for a name change when we set out on our rebranding mission, the name change grew organically out of the logo design process—reaffirming the value of an iterative design process of thoughtful discussion and intentional revisions. The design process began with a series of rough sketches exploring the basics of graphic identity: typography, mark, and color. These initial sketches were reviewed and discussed by our team and used to tease out successful ideas for further exploration. During the first round of sketches, we were drawn to concepts with bold typography that were simple, timeless, and clean while nodding to the idea of integration, cooperation and partnership. As these initial concepts were explored and refined, we found ourselves pairing down each iteration more and more until we landed on the final mark: a bold typographic treatment, stating simply 'who we are' and 'where we're from.'

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This pairing down of the logo to its key parts led to the discussion of what exactly it would mean to simply be 'Bialosky Cleveland.' Bialosky's equity is not only tied to its leadership and history as an architectural firm, but also to its employees and its multi-disciplinary approach. We are a diverse group of individuals anchored by strong leadership and an even stronger history. We are architects, planners, interior designers, engineers, and environmental graphic designers. It's how we answer the phone and it's what our clients call us—we are Bialosky. The name change makes more sense now than ever before.

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Color & Type

Pushing the ideas of simplicity, flexibility, and equity was key in the continued development of the Bialosky graphic identity. Blue—representing trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, and intelligence—has always been at the core of the Bialosky palette. The updated palette plays off of this equity with a bold pairing of blue/black and cyan. A classic navy and middle gray provide depth, while a bold pop of warm red rounds out the palette with an unexpected brightness.

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Strong typography is the basis of the Bialosky Cleveland logo and is a pillar of the extended identity. The typography pays tribute to the equity of the past Bialosky + Partners Architects marks while adding a contemporary twist. The primary Bialosky typeface, Knockout, is a condensed sans-serif that subtly nods to the Bialosky + Partners condensed logotype of the 1990s. The secondary typeface Gotham, a geometric san-serif inspired by mid-twentieth century architectural signage, is a well-balance blend of new and old that adds a great deal of flexibility to the identity.

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Function & Application

The flexibility of the new identity is continued throughout its various applications. As an integrated architectural firm, the Bialosky brand needed to be easily translated across a number of platforms from formal business letters and proposals, vibrant marketing collateral and environmental graphics throughout the office.

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