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Bridging the gap of communication with the use of technology has been a strategic focus at HBA since the opening of our Denver, Colorado office. Our approach has been to create a technology-driven infrastructure in order to support both offices, our employees and clients around the U.S. Staying up to date with evolving technology has boosted efficiency, work culture and relationships within the business.

Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality (VR) and Web-Based Management Software are tools that have been implemented during this process. Additionally, these tools help our architects and designers utilize the enormous amounts of data produced from a variety of sources while being able to easily translate information between project teams. Many of our clients face the same challenges of having employees spread across multiple locations both nationally and internationally. Solving communication problems to provide real-time feedback between multiple departments, user groups and locations, are mandatory and critical to the institutional mission. With the use of diverse systems, VR can allow communication and collaboration to happen in a natural and organic way.

Whether we are opening a new office or working with clients remotely, there can be numerous challenges impacted by miscommunication between project teams located in different states. Our team has been able to face these challenges and implement communication systems linking offices, teams and the client together. These systems consist of emailing, phone and video conferencing, Yammer (office Facebook), Microsoft Teams (task manager), and VR-multi-user. Due to technology, Colorado Office Leader and Senior Associate Thomas Berry has been able to continue to work on Omaha projects, such as the Creighton Preparatory High School Bell Tower and Student Commons Addition.

“Through technologies such as remote screen sharing for collaborative sketching sessions, Skype video conferencing, multi-person virtual reality walkthroughs for design concept and quality control reviews, and even simply sharing files and production workload between offices via VPN or cloud-based connections, we’ve been able to effectively bridge the gap of physical distance,” Says Thomas Berry. “These systems allow us to work efficiently and effectively while maintaining our core values of fostering strong connections with our clients, providing clear and frequent communication, and ensuring a highly collaborative process to deliver the best possible end product to our clients.”

Working across the U.S. with clients has also allowed us the opportunity to explore various types of technology in order to best serve each client in different industry types. For example, HBA and John Deere have been collaborating for more than 20 years. Currently, we are working on their corporate workplace strategies in Moline, IL. Utilizing technology like VR and Drones, we can fly through the space and create digital mock-up that allow users and stakeholders to “walkthrough” a space prior to a finalized design. These resources, in addition to web-based management systems, give the client the ability to stay connected to the team and see all changes in real-time progress. The 300-mile distance does not make an impact on communication with the use of these devices and a project team who is committed to client satisfaction.

Interactive virtual mock-ups provide cost-effective opportunities for clients in multiple market sectors to evaluate their space prior to construction. It allows healthcare clients to conduct workflow scenarios in acute care, ICU, operating rooms, central sterile and birthing centers to understand exactly where essential items need to be placed. With the high priority on operational and safety measures in healthcare, it is critical that VR is implemented early on to improve or detect any deficiencies in the design.

Overall, utilizing this technology whether it is healthcare, corporate, education or between our Denver and Omaha office, allows us to improve our process, understand operational methods and aid in technical problem-solving. Ability to have real-time feedback assists in creating a structured team and enhanced communication while designing around client expectations that ultimately results in a better product.


Written in collaboration by Matt Neaderhiser, AIA, Warren Curry, AIA, Angelina Mangiamelli, Ashley Eschliman