RPA Design: Successfully Closing the Gap between Understanding and Experiencing

 In Case Studies

“In healthcare, seconds can literally mean the difference between life and death. But we also want to care about the seconds from careful design decisions that can make a difference between a satisfying or stressful day as a nurse, doctor or other healthcare professional,” states Jacob D’Albora of RPA Design in Charlotte, North Carolina.

RPA Design embraced the decision to fully move to Revit in 2007 and hasn’t looked back. But it’s not just about Revit or any particular application but about RPA’s commitment to embrace technology as an integrated process that integrates teams – not simply technologies. According to D’Albora, “For example, our interior design is never an afterthought. Interior design is fully integrated from the very start. Jumping into Revit made perfect sense for us because were able to show key architectural features in context with materials and finishes as well as fixtures and equipment.”




But after nearly a decade using BIM, RPA came to the realization that 3D is not enough. “Revit does an amazing job of helping everyone understand the constructibility of the building,” recalls D’Albora. “But we can’t wait until a building is finished to receive important feedback on the actual experience of working day-to-day inside a stressful healthcare environment.”

BIM and technology consultant Read | Thomas selected RPA Design as an early pilot partner with Enscape. “I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical at first.” D’Albora continues, “Technology can be such a distraction and RPA wants to avoid the kind workflow that forces people into becoming single application experts.”

“But when I saw Enscape for the first time – and then tried it for myself – I was completely blown away! We don’t to do anything different and there’s practically no training.” D’Albora continues, “Someone installs the plugin, opens Revit and starts Enscape.  Then I’ll put Revit on one screen and Enscape on the other. I’ll show them how to navigate and that’s pretty much it. And the results in Enscape are nothing short of beautiful.”

According to Jacob, the challenge is that design decisions are often built upon other previous decisions and without on-going feedback the project team risks having to stressfully roll back design in order to move forward. RPA needed a way to eliminate the kind of disruptive redesign that comes from not communicating frequently enough to each other, to their health care user groups and to the client.




“Enscape is such a great way to experience on-the-fly design options, materials, finishes and other ideas. Whether it’s just for yourself, with your design team or even right in front of the client,” says D’Albora. “There’s an instant gratification and joy we experience when we bring our designs to life with Enscape.”

“Suffice to say that we’ve been searching for a way to immerse our end users and really help them experience the design. During this search we’ve spent more hours rendering than I care to remember.” claims D’Albora. “The final results of still image rendering might look amazing but the process is actually terrible. Ask anyone who renders as as much as we do. The constant tweaking of materials and lights, the anxious waiting – not to mention canceling renders midway through because something important about the design changed. The rendering process makes you feel miserable!”




Enscape does away with the horrible rendering process and replaces it with the ability to freely explore. “I can’t explain it – someone just has to experience it,” exclaims Jacob. “There’s a mind-gasm when you get to experience the design. Is is it okay if I say that?” D’Albora adds laughing.

As a matter of fact, RPA Design has been using Enscape as part of their RPA Pulse Initiative. In this scenario RPA uses Revit and Enscape side-by-side in order to simultaneously understand and experience the design with healthcare endusers and other project stakeholders. An example of this side by side design workflow and validation can be view on the RPA Pulse Vimeo site.



“The directors of RPA love Enscape! When Dave or Rick walk over to review a design they’ve stopped looking at Revit. They’re looking at Enscape.” D’Albora continues, “It may look like real-time computer games – but we are very serious about the customer’s experience. Enscape is allowing everyone to have the instant satisfaction of really experiencing the space.”

“But one more thing,” says D’Albora. “We’re are actually having a lot of fun in the process.”

“We’re regularly reminded by RPA leadership that great design is not only about building a building – it’s about building a lasting and long term relationship. That’s what RPA is all about.” D’Albora concludes, “Enscape is a critical part of that relationship.”



To contact RPA Design:

Jacob D’Albora
RPA Design
(704) 887-3500




Phil Read – Read|Thomas – Author

LinkedIn –                  www.linkedin.com/in/readphil
Read|Thomas –         www.readthomas.com


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