Big Picture: IA Design Intelligence in 2017


By Guy Messick, AIA | Director of Design Intelligence | February 21, 2017

New Services and Delivery Methods Driven by New Technologies Help IA Shape the Future.

IA’s Design Intelligence group researches, adapts, and creates new technologies for our clients and design teams to best implement design and change. The group has explored workflows from Automated Programming to Virtual Reality, but what is it doing now, and what can we expect from design technologies for interior architecture in the near future?


After successfully working in VR for two years and identifying a significant variety of potential uses for our clients, we are now focused on new services and delivery methods.

On the immersive side, in our San Francisco office, we are currently creating our first IA VR Center to serve the Bay Area, with more regions to come. This in-house solution uses “room scale” systems, enabling an explorer to get up and walk freely inside projects, basically eliminating the issues with uneasiness some have in sitting VR solutions and providing greater autonomy.

IA workplace strategist Kelly Funk immersed in a room-scaled VR environment at SXSW 2016.

With the expanded use of 360 VR—where users can immerse in 360-degree renderings—we can deliver environments to any mobile device, including via text message! In addition, instead of one location at a time, an explorer can be transported through multiple 360-environments with live annotations just by looking at a guide circle. Our design teams and clients are using VR for much more than design review. Several clients are even using IA created VR environments to market to their customers!

The image below shows a 360 environment with annotation.

For a co-working company in the UK, the example above shows a comfortable yet polished social and dining area in an immersive VR environment.


We create and consume massive amounts of data for IA and for our clients. When the design intelligence group began researching ways to make data more usable, it developed a new approach to how data can best be used and transformed into interactive information. It comes down to how people like to consume information. Do they prefer interactive visual connections with live data or tabular datasets such as spreadsheets? Visual presentation is the choice every time!

While IA is well versed in using data from our design BIM tool Revit, business intelligence tools like Power BI are able to interact with multiple data sources for both project and internal use. We find use cases everywhere we look. An example is a project status dashboard requested by a global client who wanted to keep track of multiple projects worldwide. To make this work, we discovered that several data sources from our client would need to connect to our Revit models, and this is where business intelligence tools were key.


There are many viewpoints about Generative Design, what it is, and what it can do. The idea of a technology that explores design by mimicking nature’s evolutionary approach is exciting! For IA, it is really about computers that evolve from tools that document our intent to tools that become our collaborators, extending our capabilities so that we can do what humans do best. We envision a resilient interiors workflow that goes something like this: Load a plan into the system and tell the system what you are looking for and what the parameters might be. In response, the system shows you 20 versions of the plan (some you may never have thought of). You select five and it gives you another 20 versions based on that selection. You select the one best suited for your project and it is built in Revit, ready for the team to begin design. This is exciting and a little scary, but IA sees it as the wave of the future.

The above graphic from Autodesk makes the point.

In the meantime, IA performs data driven design on a daily basis. Having created and integrated many innovative tools into our Revit workflow, IA is ready for and helping to create the future.

Guy Messick, AIA

Director of Design Intelligence

IA Director of Design Intelligence Guy Messick has over 30 years of experience as an architect, technologist, and thought leader. Focused on understanding the connections between design and emerging technologies, he guides IA’s adoption and use of innovative technologies across the firm and with clients. Also trained in the arts, design, and fine woodworking, Guy finds architecture the discipline that best unites his many interests and talents. Contact him at [email protected].

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