When the pandemic struck, Boston firm b Architecture used 3D technology to help many of its clients in home design.

Photo courtesy of b Architecture

Like many leaders of design firms across New England, b Architecture Studio (barchstudio.com) founder Christopher Brown knew the pandemic would limit his team’s ability to get inside a client’s home to map out projects. Enter 3D technology, which allowed b Architecture to keep designs rolling and plans to stay on schedule. We recently sat down with Brown to discuss the process breakthrough that ultimately helps clients envision their homes to the finest detail.

Some solutions in life come out of challenging circumstances—how did you make your decision to use 3D technology?
Connecting with our clients and colleagues is always at the forefront of what we do, and a number of innovations have become the tools we use to keep improving it. Before the pandemic, we [used laser scanning on] our more complicated existing structures, [since] it fits nicely with our 3D modeling work and BIM—building information modeling—software. Once the pandemic hit, we connected with a laser scanning firm to offer this to more of our clients. The laser scan allows one technician to be in the space and move through quickly—much faster than our team measuring by hand.

Photo courtesy of b Architecture

How does this technology work?
One technician with the scanner on a tripod will set up and capture each room, closet and attic of your home. During this pandemic, it limits the exposure for both parties. From the scanner, the wealth of information—think every point and surface of your home—is downloaded and then translated to a virtual 3D model. We now have a working model to see the entire home in perspective and also 2D plans and elevations. Design concepts can start, looking at all the planes and volumes of the house, and we continue working and building in this 3D virtual environment.

How have your clients reacted?
They really do appreciate the technology—it’s cool stuff!—and how quickly the technicians can operate. Also, it’s so helpful to virtually walk both the existing home and the design transformation with them.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Delaney

How has it impacted your team's design workflow?
We use our 3D world for all aspects of designs, enabling us to stay coordinated and get to the details that really matter for our clients. For example, a beach home needs plenty of hooks and towel bars! Being able to see and walk through all the wall surfaces of bathrooms and outdoor showers truly allows our clients to make good decisions on placements of these items and keep these spaces beautiful, useful and tidy. [The technology] also has benefited our scheduling. Recently, the laser scan work helped us kick off a project one month early, as the scanning firm could start while we wrapped up other projects and got ready to start the new project.