Superior Street is one of Duluth, Minnesota’s oldest and most iconic streets, home to family businesses, shops and cafes. Now virtual reality is helping with a long awaited revitalization project thanks to the work of LHB, a local architecture, engineering and planning firm. Everyone from Minnesota’s lieutenant governor to the general public is interested in Superior Street’s redevelopment. Key to gaining support for the project was how LHB used VR to provide an immersive, realistic rendering that displayed the aesthetics, lighting, ambiance and sightlines.
For many, it’s difficult to visualize how the final project will appear in real life when viewing 2D drawings of the design. The ability to experience the scene in a real scale from every viewpoint using VR made for far better informed decision making. VR also helped streamline the design review process and control costs because potential design issues were spotted before construction started. For LHB, delivering a high-quality VR experience began by generating designs in high-end design and modeling applications. They used topography information from AutoCAD Civil 3D and modeled details such as curbs and utilities with Autodesk Revit. To create realistic nighttime views, streetlamps and other light sources were photometrically accurate for the lamp and bulb type — all with the help of NVIDIA Quadro GPUs. The data was rendered in real time using VR applications such as Revizto, and then all came together in Fuzor, a turnkey VR platform for the AEC industry.