Firm Profile: Vocon AECbytes Profile (July 24, 2018)

Vocon, a leading architecture and interior design firm, shares its perspective on AEC technology in this Firm Profile.

What is the history and background of the firm?

Established in 1987, Vocon is a leading global architecture and interior design firm focused on creating distinctive, productive environments for private and public-sector clients throughout the country. It is currently ranked as the 43rd largest design firm globally by Interior Design Magazine.

Vocon is a certified woman-owned firm (WBENC) with offices in Cleveland and New York. Architecturally licensed in all 50 states, it specializes in providing corporations complete architectural design services on projects across North America. Vocon is a business that believes its greatest assets are people – its clients, its employees and its community.

Vocon’s main goal is to be a leader in the design industry by having a creative, financially secure and ethical business that gives an opportunity to be the designers and innovators of the future. It strives to secure clients that believe in the value of this mission, so that, together, they can innovate, explore, guide and ultimately add value to its clients’ businesses.

The Vocon professional team is multi-disciplined and includes registered architects, project managers, site/landscape planners (AutoCAD and Revit), furniture specifiers and workplace strategists.

What is the firm's current focus? What are the key projects it is working on?

Currently our focus is on strategic engagements that look holistically at how space, experience and brand, among other things, impact and support current and future challenges distributed across various sectors, such as Corporate Headquarters, Multi-family residential and mixed-use developments, Retail, Building Repositioning and more (Figure 1).  Some of our key engagements presently involve global financial, management and professional services consulting firms; national insurance providers such as WTW; national financial institutions such as KeyBank; national real estate leaders such as Forest City, Hines and Compass; as well as many clients rooted in the Technology and Workplace-as-a-Service sectors.

Figure 1. Some of the projects that Vocon is working on.

When did the firm start using AEC technology, and how is it being used today? How important is AEC technology to the firm?

Vocon has leveraged technology from the very beginning (Figure 2). Today, we use a wide variety of technologies to complete our projects; a few are listed below. Our hardware and software solutions were chosen to support our designers and clients as effectively as possible.

  • VMware database cloud solutions
  • BIM software (e.g. Autodesk AEC Collection Suite)
  • Computational and Generative Design Software (e.g. Dynamo Studio / Fractal)
  • 3D Scanning / Photogrammetry (e.g.Matterport)
  • Drone Photography 
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality (accompanying hardware: HTC Vive with TP Cast wireless headset and Oculus headset)
  • Enscape
  • Autodesk LIVE
  • Iris VR (Multi User)
  • Workstream collaboration [Bluescape virtual workplace on two 86” 4K (20) point touch displays] 
  • Virtual Walk-Through Platforms (e.g., Transported)
  • iOS and Android based apps for client workflow
Figure 2. 3D model of an interior design for a commercial client.

Does the firm have a specific approach and/or philosophy to AEC technology? If so, what is it?

Our approach when using technology is to use the best tool in our tool box that responds to our clients’ needs most effectively (Figure 3). We pride ourselves on being nimble and able to adapt to various technology trends in the market.

Figure 3. A rendered image of an interior design (top image) and the actual space in use once completed (lower image).

What are some of the main challenges the firm faces in its implementation of AEC technology?

The new user adoption period and process of onboarding employees to the various platforms can pose a challenge in terms of required downtime and effort. Additionally, educating clients on the process of generating fully rendered virtual 3D models has become necessary. The changing mindset and culture of the architecture and interior design industry has set the expectation that more is able to be accomplished in less time, which has required faster production to keep up with our clients’ requests and needs.

How does the firm see AEC technology evolving in the future?

Augmented Reality in the AEC work stream process is going to take our process to the next level. The experience we deliver to our clients and our ability to collaborate efficiently with consultants will continue to evolve and improve quickly.  

If the firm had a wish list for AEC technology, what would it be?

Greater access to infinite computing power. The platforms we use today and going into the future do and will depend on immense CPU and GPU computing power.

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