Connecting design and construction with Unity Reflect
Check out the first project leveraging Unity’s new architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) product, Unity Reflect. Designed by award-winning architecture firm SHoP Architects, 9 DeKalb is a residential tower set to become the tallest structure in Brooklyn, and Unity Reflect is helping project stakeholders accelerate communication and construction planning for this landmark project.
Since announcing Unity Reflect in June, we’ve shared how it works, answered your burning questions, and explored how teams with and without Unity expertise can use it. Now, it’s time to see how our customers with early access to Unity Reflect are using it in the real world.
At Unite Copenhagen, we invited Adam Chernick and Christopher Morse from SHoP Architects’ interactive visualization team to share their experiences with Unity Reflect and its potential to transform their industry. Read on to learn how SHoP has used Unity Reflect to fast track BIM to real-time 3D data visualizations as well as custom augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications.
You’re also invited to register for our upcoming webinar, “Accelerating Communication in AEC with Unity Reflect” featuring SHoP Architects.
BIM to real-time 3D: From multiple weeks to one click
With every project, including 9 DeKalb (shown above), SHoP aims to decrease construction time with more accurate documentation and construction administration processes. Unity Reflect enables the SHoP team to create seamless alignment between design and construction, helping save money, reduce errors and create safer job sites.
Utilizing Unity Reflect, out of the box, SHoP was able to see an immediate improvement to their workflows. Preparing and transferring BIM data for real-time 3D experiences had historically been a major challenge for the firm. In Chris and Adam’s words, there was “no good way to do it.” The team had to rely on a patchwork of less-than-ideal approaches that took weeks to complete, from separately exporting BIM and geometry datasets to bringing CSV files into Unity.
Unity Reflect solved that problem overnight by unlocking the ability to bring data from Autodesk Revit into real-time 3D in one click. Reducing the time needed to convert 3D designs into real-time 3D from weeks to seconds, Unity Reflect empowered the SHoP team to drive the design and construction outcomes that matter most to its business.
Building on top of Unity Reflect
Unity Reflect requires no coding skills and is accessible to any designer. For Unity developers like Adam and Chris, Unity Reflect also provides the flexibility to customize projects using the Unity Editor. Leveraging Unity Reflect’s infrastructure, the SHoP team created multiple interactive applications from its BIM data that enabled stakeholders to make better design decisions. Let’s check out what they built.
Acoustic simulation and visualization in VR
Acoustics tend to be an afterthought in design, and when teams finally conduct acoustical analysis, this information is delivered via traditional formats like an Excel file that are difficult to glean insights from.
With Unity Reflect, SHoP could make acoustics a core part of project planning for 9 DeKalb. Because Unity Reflect preserves metadata during the data federation process, SHoP was able to take embedded data within the BIM model to visually relay the acoustic properties of a given location in VR. This simulation using the HTC Vive – one of the first VR headsets to be compatible out of the box with Unity Reflect – enabled SHoP to gain a comprehensive understanding of the acoustic influence on the design and make the right adjustments to ensure a sound acoustical environment.
iOS app: Status tracking in AR
Adam and Chris built a simple status tracking app for the tower’s exterior glazing panels, allowing anyone to understand the progress of the project in a highly visual, understandable way. Because any stakeholder regardless of technical expertise can access this viewer and interact with the tower model at runtime, SHoP is able to democratize information about the project’s progress throughout its firm and with its partners.
iOS app: On-site construction documents in AR
SHoP also built another AR app based on the BIM model that is accessible on the actual construction site of the tower. As shown in the video, technicians on the ground can overlay SHoP’s designs in AR on top of the ongoing construction project as well as surface construction documents from Revit tied to their exact position. Instead of shuffling through thousands of paper-based construction documents or PDFs, the on-site team is armed with the information they need to catch design flaws early and perform their jobs more efficiently.
Learn more about how Unity Reflect can add value to your projects in our upcoming webinar. Unity Reflect will be available this November, so make sure to sign up for our mailing list to stay in the loop as we get closer to the launch.