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Friday, May 3 • 10:30am - 12:00pm
Let's Play! How Virtual Reality Is Engaging People and Communities to Solve Enormous Problems

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This session takes a unique look at how Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR) and gaming come together to foster equity and draw upon the strengths of the community to solve problems for an abundant future. The first case study uses VR gaming to foster STEM education in a diverse student population, thus ensuring that future generations have a more inclusive presence in STEM-related fields. The next two case studies illustrate how architects and urban designers are using video gaming and play as a tool for community members and building occupants to take ownership of their spaces and participate in the visioning of a project, from a single built space all the way up to the urban scale.

1. Mars City Facility Ops Challenge (Mars City) is a response to the urgent need to foster STEM education in many different communities – especially for people of diverse ethnic, racial, economic and gender identities. With the goal of exciting students about potential career paths in the building sciences, Kieran Timberlake’s (KT’s) team of architects and researchers, in partnership with the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), NASA, and the Total Learning Research Institute (TLRI), developed an educational game set on a virtual base on the planet Mars. Mars City has a goal of being a broad-reaching educational effort, harnessing the growing availability of VR in classrooms to make the program accessible to all demographics of students.

 2. HEATWAVE - Empathy for the HVAC: This past year, Opsis led a research project with graduate students from Portland State University’s Architecture School to analyze the effectiveness of gamified VR to improve a building user’s ability and desire to better utilize passive and advanced systems and improve energy efficiency for a classroom that Opsis was designing. The research focused on new ways of training by studying VR’s gaming capabilities to build upon the users’ emotional relationship with a space, improving their ability and desire to better utilize passive and advanced systems such as shades, ceiling fans, lighting controls, and operable windows. While this phase of the research focused on occupant behavior and training, the study also provided insight into the use of interactive VR to allow building users to interact with a space and its components before the design is final, collaboratively shaping the indoor environments in which they work, go to school, or live.

3. Block by Block: UN-Habitat and its partners are exploring how MR can be used to boost community participation in planning urban public space. When creating public spaces in poor and developing communities, UN-Habitat wanted to gather the perspectives and ideas of the people who would be using these spaces the most. In 2012, they started using Minecraft with members of the community to allow them to provide real input into the design of their public spaces. More recently they have introduced MR to the process, which has many possible applications in the urban development field. UN-Habitat is very excited with the possibility of continuing to experiment with MR and collaborative urban design to make citizen participation processes more inclusive and accessible.

This session is approved for the following continuing education credits:
  • 1.5 LFA credits
  • 1.5 AIA LU|HSW credits

avatar for Deirdre Quarnstrom

Deirdre Quarnstrom

General Manager, Xbox division at Microsoft
Deirdre Quarnstrom is a General Manager in the Xbox division at Microsoft where she is responsible for strategy, product development and community engagement for Minecraft in education, including Minecraft: Education Edition, a version of the video game Minecraft created for education... Read More →
avatar for Heather DeGrella

Heather DeGrella

Sustainable Design Director, Opsis Architecture
Heather's tireless passion for green building is evident throughout her 18 years of extensive community and professional service, public speaking, and through practical application on a diverse number of design and research projects. Heather leverages a diversity of skills in architecture... Read More →
avatar for Efrie Escott

Efrie Escott

Researcher, KieranTimberlake
Efrie Escott (AIA, LEED AP BD+C) explores topics related to materials, Life Cycle Analysis, digital technologies, and environmental systems as a member of the Research Group at KieranTimberlake. Efrie uses her experience with computer programming and digital analysis methods to lead... Read More →
avatar for Fátima Olivieri

Fátima Olivieri

Associate, KieranTimberlake
Fátima Olivieri integrates elevated design thinking with meticulous attention to craft, culture and context to create spaces that enhance people's appreciation of architecture and its environment. Fátima has worked on award-winning projects including Harvard Dunster House and a... Read More →

Friday May 3, 2019 10:30am - 12:00pm PDT
Hyatt Regency - Chiwawa Room #501