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CallisonRTKL: Keeping ahead of the curve

We spoke with Joseph Kim, architectural designer with CallisonRTKL, a global architecture practice responsible for some of the world’s most memorable and successful environments for developers, retailers, investors, institutions and public entities.

Brent Cross Shopping Center, London, England

Tell us a little about the company, CallisonRTKL.

CallisonRTKL is a global architecture, planning, and design practice with a legacy of shaping some of the world’s most successful cities, communities, and places. Bringing together two idea-driven design practices under the umbrella of Arcadis, CallisonRTKL nurtures a single culture of creative problem-solving and holistic value creation for clients across a broad variety of sectors and geographies.

CallisonRTKL has worked on some iconic projects, you must feel privileged to work for them!

Yes, our people have the opportunity to work on a wide range of project types—from urban mixed-use districts to award-winning resorts to large-scale cultural and healthcare facilities. This diversity makes every day interesting and ensures we learn a great deal from every client and every project.

Brent Cross Shopping Center, London, England

Chadstone Shopping Center, Melbourne, Australia

What themes remain constant throughout the lifecycle of your projects?

The use of technology helps to drive efficiency and enhance sustainability across the business. In all our projects,

"SketchUp allows us to create quick alternative designs for clients and communicate project complexity to aid the coordination and approval process."

We strive to design places that maximize environmental, social and economic value. We use a wide variety of technology tools to support us in facilitating certifications, such as LEED and BREEAM.

Utilizing 3D models to inform and communicate project decisions is fundamental to a BIM workflow, what does this look like for your team?

SketchUp is one of a series of ways that BIM is introduced into CallisonRTKL workflows. It allows designers to quickly and easily turn ideas into built forms in the virtual space. This quick visualization process allows stakeholders to move through fast-paced design stages in a streamlined way. Its ability to import and export multiple file formats allows us to utilize existing sources as much as possible in more heavy-weight BIM applications.

How have you seen the design process evolve in recent years?

Technology plays a prominent role in our everyday lives; using it to enable the creation and development of design is simply a natural progression of that role. At CallisonRTKL, we employ a variety of different applications to inform our decision-making. Keeping in line with the requirements and aspirations we have for each of our projects, a full suite of tools is invaluable to staying on track. They help us in many ways, from allowing us to better visualize proposed designs to facilitating environmental analysis, design team coordination, and design rationalization for optimum output.

How do you achieve the high-level collaboration required on large-scale projects?

From an internal perspective, software applications allow our teams to more fully engage with project designs and spatial qualities. Externally, technology enables us to communicate our ideas more effectively and create a common foundation for project understanding. At CallisonRTKL, we work hard to ensure we are sharing knowledge across offices and regions. We also employ several experts worldwide, who serve as resources for everyone else.

Mercedes Platz, Berlin, Germany

Mercedes Platz, Berlin, Germany

Virtual and augmented reality tech is attracting a lot of attention in the Architecture and Design space. How does this feature in your projects?

For projects at the concept and in the early stages of design, we use both VR and AR to enhance the way we communicate our design ideas and demonstrate what they would look and feel like in a real world context. For projects worldwide, we are exploring VR as an opportunity to look at the more technical aspects of 3D coordination prior to construction beginning on site.

CallisonRTKL, shopping mall interior (currently under development)

Does the use of AR/VR have any real impact on the actual design process?

VR allows the viewer to “experience” space in addition to just viewing normal images. All stakeholders can easily engage with the space during the design process, so it helps to build consensus around design decisions. We find it is a far more effective method than trying to address areas of complexity once construction is underway. We use visualization/VR-ready images from renderers such as V-Ray for SketchUp and Lumion. The latest versions of both have integrated VR and panoramic view production capabilities for SketchUp.

What are your predictions for AR/VR in Architecture and design?

We believe that although AR/VR technology is still very much in its infancy, it will be incorporated more and more within our workflows. The production and handover of the data from one application to another is already showing signs of being streamlined, which will remove aspects of data atrophy until it's no longer a barrier to adoption. In addition, VR hardware is likely to become more portable, of higher resolution, and more accessible to all stakeholders.

"Where the universal tools of paper and pen have been a requirement for creating drawings, we believe that virtual reality will be an enabler for understanding 3D models within a first person perspective."

Ultimately, it will become a more effective tool for both for design creation and communication.

Mall of Egypt, Cairo, Egypt

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About the Author

As a member of Trimble’s channel marketing team, you’ll find Richard making the world great again - one country at a time. His downtime is spent pedaling, striding and photographing the wilderness and urban jungle.

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