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Immersive Environments Lab

The Immersive Environments Lab is a partnership between Penn State's Information Technology Services (ITS) and the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

The IEL is an architectural visualization system consisting of a three frusta panorama display and a cluster of graphics workstations. The system was originally designed to be a commodity hardware replacement for higher cost-point solutions like SGI and Cave systems, but we have found students pushing the functionality of the system into a multi-modal presentation system.

The adept student will have an initial display of one screen of slide presentation, another screen of animated video, with the third screen provides a 3D interactive walk-through of their architectural design, and on queue launch the 3D to full three-screen stereo panorama for a group walk-through. These design studio sessions also mix in remote applications and high-definition video conferencing via Access Grid and Tandberg technology to collaborate with peer institutions and industry partners.

The first iteration of the IEL was deployed with one stereo-capable screen during Fall semester 2001. The second iteration was deployed during Spring semester 2002, and provided a two screen Windows desktop. The third iteration arrived during Fall 2003, with a three-screen stereo active panorama and experimentation with multiple Linux rendering nodes for increased interactive graphics performance. Fast forward to Fall 2006 and now we have a new building and multiple locations benefiting from all our past experience.

Other disciplines are benefiting from the facility: mechanical engineering, chemistry, bioinformatics, architectural engineering and construction. A sister lab of the IEL is the Immersive Construction (ICon) Lab, situated within the Department of Architectural Engineering.

Using virtual reality to visualize architecture allows the students to close a mental loop that they otherwise would not have been able to. One may follow the design process from conception to construction to completion.


Stuckeman School of Architecture
and Landscape Architecture
121 Stuckeman Family Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814.865.6112
Fax: 814.863.8137
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