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Utah State University Program Leading In Virtual Design Research

Utah State University's landscape architecture and design program uses virtual reality
Bronson Teichert

A community in the mountains is being designed by students at Utah State University. They’re using a new technology to get a bird’s eye view of the project.

The project on Powder Mountain in the Ogden Valley is being designed using virtual reality, a design method Benjamin George, a professor of landscape architecture design at USU, said is more useful than older physical models.

“You’re not trying to look at a two dimensional map and the project that three dimensionally in your mind and see in your mind’s eye,” George said. “By putting on the virtual reality goggles you’re able to intuitively design because you have a great feel for the sense of the place, the scale, the way that the elements are arranged on the site. You’re able to then intuitively design as if you were actually in the actual landscape and had a pen that you could draw all over.”

Jennifer Coates, one of the design students says these live virtual interactions help them know where and how to build structures on the mountain.

“Seeing the 3D images alone is really awesome and being able to maneuver through them was amazing,” Coates said. “But having the added interaction and being able to see movement helped communicate what exactly I was looking at rather than just a bunch of random shapes.”

Design student Connor Ross is from North Ogden and grew up enjoying Powder Mountain with his family.

“It means a lot to me and it’s been a great experience being able to be a part of that re-development and the design process of it,” Ross said.

According to Professor George, USU is one of the first universities to use virtual reality for design and will most likely lead the way in virtual design research.