Greg Lynn, an architect with FORM and UCLA Architecture professor, demonstrates on a YouTube video (https://youtu.be/70xDCokzAck) the new technology he was able to use to create a fantastic futuristic mixed-use project for ‘The Architecture Imagination’ Pavilion at the 15th annual Venice Architecture Biennale which recently opened in Italy. He called his work the ‘Center for Fulfillment, Knowledge and Innovation’ which is an adaptive reuse design of the existing ruinous historic Packard Auto Plant in Detroit which is a huge 3.5 million square foot, 1.7 mile long facility. Built as the first reinforced concrete industrial facility by Albert Kahn from 1903-11, it was mostly abandoned in 1958 when the once fashionable luxury car Packard no longer proved to be competitive.
Parts of the plant actually were operable until 2010 when the factory was left for ruins. Vandalism and fires have left the site structurally unsafe and with no finishes or infrastructure left. Purchased by Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo in 2013, he intends to create a mixed-use development for the site, which means that Lynn’s vision may become a reality.
For the Biennale model, Lynn piloted the use of the Microsoft and Trimble HoloLens solution which utilized mixed-reality to blur the lines between the digital model and the physical plant. His design involved an unusual mix of university space, as well as robotic manufacturing, autonomous transportation, retail fulfillment, food locations, aerial drone port on the lower floors, with a research center, auditorium and convention center occupying the upper spaces. He was able to use the mixed-reality application to execute various ‘what-if’ design scenarios superimposing them onto the existing site which would have been almost impossible to imagine without viewing the real world building ruins with the virtual model.
“Trimble mixed-reality technology and Microsoft HoloLens bring the design to life and bridge the gap between the digital and physical,” said Greg Lynn in a Trimble May 27 press release. “Using this technology I can make decisions at the moment of inception, shorten the design cycle and improve communication with my clients. Mixed reality releases 3D models from the constraints of 2D screens into the real world. It is the shift from information communication to experiencing communication.” And as Aviad Almagor, Director of Mixed-Reality for Trimble said in the same release, this is a “revolutionary change, (and) brings a completely different way to interact with data.”
What is equally exciting to the Real Estate and Workplace Solutions team at Trimble is the R&D work we are doing with the HoloLens with Aviad’s group and are currently working with industry organizations and customers to help us determine how we can used mixed-reality to transform the operations and maintenance work facility management could be using following the completion of the re-energized Packard site when Lynn’s vision is hopefully realized by Mr. Palazuelo. As the architect observed, we will be able to experience the maintenance work and communicate it in a far different way as we immerse ourselves with the equipment in the building rather than viewing it all on a flat computer screen. Mixed-reality not only changes communication, but gives us a whole new meaning for spatial intelligence.