Virtual Reality among “huge changes in architecture”

October 25, 2016

DALLAS/FORT WORTH – How would you describe the state of the construction industry in general terms? We consider the construction industry extremely healthy in all of the geographic areas we work in (basically across the country). This is for corporate projects, high-density urban mixed-use projects, renovation projects, high-density housing projects, hospitality projects and industrial projects. Our business has been on a steady increase for the last seven years.

What factors are driving this increase?
A diversity of projects, substantial equity and financing options for our owners and limited supply for almost all building types are driving this increase. We are seeing owners and municipalities working together on projects that are going to add value to their communities with tax credits, TIF monies and tax abatements. This additional funding often makes the project work financially and allows for new or renovation construction to begin.

How has this affected your company and how you conduct business?
The increase in construction has been very positive for our firm. It has allowed us to increase our client base dramatically across the country, which increases awareness about who we are and the quality of work we offer.

What are the hot button issues in your industry?
Hot button issues right now in architecture and design are the urbanization of projects, financial lending and equity requirements and the lack of educated and experienced personnel in the profession as a whole.

What are the major changes in the industry in recent years relating to the type of work you do?
Major changes we have seen in the industry are the increased urbanization of developments and projects and the higher density associated with these projects, combined with the increased attention to revitalizing the urban cores of our cities.

What is the most significant challenge your industry faces?
The rise in construction costs is the largest issue we face daily. Second is finding the most qualified personnel to allow our firm’s growth to continue.

What are the cost increases relating to your industry?
Government taxes, increasing cost for providing benefits such as health insurance for our employees and just escalating wage requirements to retain our top employees are the main cost increases in our industry. It’s really not unlike most businesses in our country.

How are you dealing with these challenges?
Being at the forefront in technology, keeping our marketing efforts at the highest and most sophisticated levels possible and always adding talented staff when the opportunity arises.

What is on the horizon for your industry?
The architecture industry is always changing and technology is continuing to play a larger role. The introduction of virtual reality (VR) into the world has already made huge changes in how architecture is being designed, presented and developed, and the trend is not slowing down. The speed of development is increasing and the technology is changing on what seems to be a weekly basis. VR is still in its infancy, but for maa, we have already seen the technology pay off in dividends. Clients, developers and contractors have been able to see conditions, respond on the spot, and, as a group make decisions at a speed we have not seen before. As VR develops, our industry has to stay informed, continue to use any and all tools available to help clients and each other streamline the building process and ultimately create a better building.

Merriman Anderson/Architects Inc. (maa) is a Dallas-based architecture, interior design and planning firm. maa offers programming, urban planning, architectural design, space planning, interior architecture/design, graphic design, LEED/sustainable design, construction document production, BIM/REVIT design, construction observation and 3-D visualization services. –mjm