Virtual Reality

The National Building Museum’s Big Build Integrates Augmented Reality and VRD Digital Signage Today

The National Building Museum's Big Build integrates augmented reality and virtual realityProvided by the National Building Museum.

The Big Build will return to the National Building Museum in Washington, DC for the first time since 2019, this time incorporating AR and VR components, according to a press release.

A young visitor learns to drive nails at the Miller & Long nailing contest. Provided by the National Building Museum / Kevin Allen Photography.

A free, one-day community event that has been a DC staple for years, the exhibit has shut down during the pandemic and is returning with high-tech components, allowing visitors of all ages to experience building in an environment safe and convenient from 11 a.m. at 4 p.m. EST. Inside, the museum will feature stations for contractors, plumbers, electricians, ironworkers, carpenters and more to learn and try out various skills. Outside, the museum will include a “kids zoo” with vehicles and heavy equipment used in construction, including a crane.

Learn to lay bricks. Provided by the National Building Museum / Emily Clack.

This year, the experience will integrate augmented reality and virtual reality in an exhibition space called The Tech Room. DST has contacted museum officials to find out more. Karen Baratz of Baratz Communications provided this list of activities to DST:

  • DPR Construction offers virtual design activities using augmented reality and 3D models.
  • HITT Contracting Inc. will provide an augmented reality experience that will show how AR is being leveraged in the construction industry to improve visual communication. From a construction perspective, AR is a great tool because it helps designers, builders, and engineers to predict in advance what issues may have been caused by installation conflicts involved in constructions or those that will reduce the functionality of the space. Working on these issues early on saves time and money compared to discovering them at construction time.
  • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT): The VR Lift allows apprentices and students to learn the controls of this equipment that is used daily on job sites across the United States. The advantage is that they learn in a safe environment with more opportunities to learn. Virtual reality simulates moving the lift on a job site, raising the platform while choosing from a number of different job site scenarios focusing on different skills.
  • Walter P Moore: Using VR headsets and cell phones, participants will access a VR application which may involve changing the type of structure (from steel to concrete to wood) to see how much energy (or of embodied carbon) would be required to create these structures. The activity can also allow them to change the number of floors or the footprint to see how this affects the final energy requirements.
An adult visitor chisels a tree trunk, supervised by a master carpenter. Provided by the National Building Museum / Kevin Allen Photography.

There will also be a storytelling room for the youngest.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have The Big Build return to the Great Hall in person,” said Aileen Fuchs, president and executive director of the museum, in the press release. “This event will engage children and adults alike, giving them the literal tools to build a wide range of objects and inspire their curiosity about how we can all play a part in planning, creating, building and improving places where we live, work and play.”

A young favorite in the hammer and nail contest. Provided by the National Building Museum / Emily Clack.

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