National Building Museum’s Big Build incorporates AR, VRDigital Signage Today

Provided by the National Building Museum.

The Big Build will return to The National Building Museum in Washington, DC for the first time since 2019, this time incorporating AR and VR components, according to a press release.

A young visitor learns how to hammer nails at Miller & Long’s nail-driving contest. Provided by National Building Museum / Kevin Allen Photography.

A free day-long community event that has been a DC staple for years, the exhibit stopped running during the pandemic and is returning with high tech components, allowing visitors of all ages to experience construction in a safe, hands-on environment from 11 am to 4 pm EST. Indoors, the museum will feature stations from contractors, plumbers, electricians, iron workers, carpenters and more to learn about and try out various skills. Outside, the museum will feature a “petting zoo” with vehicles and heavy equipment used in construction, including a crane.

Learning how to lay bricks. Provided by National Building Museum / Emily Clack.

This year, the experience will incorporate augmented reality and virtual reality in an exhibit space called The Tech Room. DST reached out to museum representatives to learn more. Karen Baratz of Baratz Communications provided this list of activities to DST:

  • DPR Construction is providing virtual design activities using augmented reality and 3D models.
  • HITT Contracting Inc. will provide an augmented reality experience that demonstrates how AR is leveraged in the construction industry to improve visual communication. From a construction perspective, AR is a tremendous tool because it helps designers, builders and engineers foresee issues in advance that would have been caused by clashes in installation involved in builds or those that will reduce functionality of the space. Working around these issues early on saves time and money compared to finding these out at the time of construction.
  • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT): The VR Lift allows apprentices and students to learn the controls on this equipment that is used every day on job sites across the United States. The advantage is that they learn in a safe environment with more opportunities to learn. The VR simulates moving the lift around a job site, raising the platform while choosing from a number of different job site scenarios focusing on different skills.
  • Walter P Moore: Using VR headsets and mobile phones, participants will access a VR app that may involve changing the structure type (from steel to concrete to wood) to see how much energy (or embodied carbon) would be required to create those structures. The activity may also allow them to change the number of floors or footprint to see how that affects the final energy requirements.
An adult visitor chisels a tree trunk, supervised by a master carpenter. Provided by National Building Museum / Kevin Allen Photography.

There will also be a Storytime Room for younger visitors.

“We could not be more thrilled to have The Big Build return in person to the Great Hall,” Aileen Fuchs, president and executive director of the museum, said in the press release. “This event will engage kids and adults alike, giving them the literal tools to build a wide array of objects and inspire their curiosity about how we can all play a role in planning, creating, constructing and improving the places where we live, work and play.”

A young frontrunner in the hammer and nails contest. Provided by National Building Museum / Emily Clack.


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