Restaurant Development & Design

JAN-FEB 2018

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 5 9 How To Use 3-D Modeling and Virtual Reality BY DANA TANYERI C ustomers aren't the only ones embracing game-changing new technologies in restaurant spaces. Designers, too, are leveraging technology to revolutionize the process of creating, presenting and modifying projects, tapping tools and programs that first emerged in the gam- ing and entertainment industries to go where traditional restaurant design and rendering techniques can't — into the interactive, 3-D virtual environment. Broader adoption of specific technologies, such as 3-D modeling and virtual reality, is gaining momentum as design and architecture firms make the investment and hire design technology experts, and as clients warm up to — and even begin to expect — their use. Rohit Arora, design technology manager at MBH Architects in Alameda, Calif., says increasing adoption by design- ers in the restaurant and retail space has partly to do with costs for the technology coming down. But more important, he says, infrastructure advancements now make using it with clients easier and more practical than ever before. "Very low-cost or even free delivery platforms are becoming mainstream, so I could take a 360-degree image of an existing place or finished work and post it on social media, for instance," Arora says. "We've all now seen these 360-degree images on Facebook and YouTube, etc. Previously, even if you were to create this work, how would you deliver it? You'd have to send a flash drive or send or take the computer in person. Today, you can send it via a Dropbox link or YouTube video. The underlying infrastructure in terms of the connectivity has also improved. So it's a culmination of all these things that has brought us to this point." Arora, an architect before crossing over into specialized design technology, joined MBH two years ago as the firm's first design technology manager. He held previous positions with Bay Area tech start-ups and was an AutoCAD software QA engineer and IT/CAD man- ager at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the San Francisco-based architecture firm credited with designing some of Apple's first iconic stores. His is the sort of skill set that trends suggest design firms will increasingly seek to add as they delve deeper into tech-enhanced design. So is Randy Liddil's. He joined Columbus, Ohio-based Chute Gerdeman in February 2015 and now serves as vice president of the design and branding firm's Digital Design Lab. His credentials include photography, web design and extensive 3-D modeling and animation work in a previous positon at WD Part- ners and Glavan Feher Architects. Working at the intersection of design and technology, Arora and Liddil are helping to introduce both their own internal teams and their companies' cli- ents to emerging design tools that bring spaces to life in a virtual sense and of- fer advanced insights into projects in a real-time, interactive, 3-D environment. Take the T-Shirt Test Just because high-tech solutions like 3-D modeling and virtual reality are be- coming increasingly common, however, doesn't mean every client is ready for or willing to invest in them — or that every project is a good fit for their use. Arora says he explains to clients that the technology is just a tool and uses the example of T-shirt sizes to help determine what "size" or level of technology may be best for them. "I go with small, medium and large," he says.

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