This visualization and simulation project experimented with emerging “immersive” technologies—virtual reality, mixed reality, spherical panoramas, and 360-degree video—to discover their current strengths, limitations, and opportunities in the design and planning process. The project approach was critical and evaluative, with the intent of understanding the best uses these new tools have now, and what role they might play in the AEC industry in the near future. The study findings were shared as an open source resource to further accelerate experimentation in landscape architecture and allied fields. During the project, the team tested hardware and software, set up a demo day for designers and planners, hosted an outreach event for a client and stakeholders, and conducted interviews with industry professionals and product engineers. The project was funded by the Patrick T. Curran Fellowship at SWA and continues the firm’s exploration of new tools for design.


Anya Domlesky and Emily Schlickman, XL research and innovation Lab at SWA



George Kutnar, Evan Lee, Ashley Langworthy, Daniel Affleck, SWA
Neil Hrushowy, SF Department of Planning
Tristan Randall, Autodesk
Priya Cherukuru, David Barry, County of Santa Clara
Ailyn Mendoza, IrisVR
Hector Tarrido-Picart, ESRI
Doug Geerdes, Google
Stacey Anderson, Municipal Art Society and Maker Park
Ted Jutras, Golden Triangle BID