This KC startup brings building designs to life.
Architects, engineers and designers are known for their creativity, but they’re often challenged on how to show their work to clients before it is built.
Tracy Ford has created a company that can do just that. Ford, an architect himself, started Virtutecture three years ago with his wife, Tanya Jana-Ford—also an architect—to provide others with a helpful tool.
“We make virtual-reality simulations for architecture, engineering and real estate, so people can walk through buildings before they are built,” Ford said. “We work directly with our clients, and we take their 3-D models into a real- time simulation using video game technology.”
Virtutecture was among the top 20 finalists for last year’s LaunchKC grant competition. The young business has landed a list of clients that includes Sprint, Commerce Bank, ACI Boland and Yaeger Architecture.
Ford has been into computer technology since his youth. During high school and college at Kansas State University, he ran a computer repair business while creating video games of his own and pursuing a master’s in architecture.
With Virtutecture, Ford said all his interests “merged together.” He decided to launch the business on his own right after college graduation.
“After three to four months, I discovered it was too early, so I actually started at an architecture firm to learn more about the business,” Ford said. He is on the full-time staff of TK Architects, where he does 3-D aspect work.
“I am still at the firm during the day, and I do this in the evening,” Ford said. “They have been great about giving me time off to do presentations. … I never stopped working on this on the side.”
It takes less than a week to complete most projects, Ford said. As for cost, “it varies depending on the project—customization, size and complexity.”
Ford is particularly excited about Virtutecture’s application in the real estate arena, where he can do 3-D mapping of a home. It can generate a complete floor plan of a house in detail and allow buyers to see things as they actually are in reality without leaving a computer screen.
“The thought behind it is to speed up the looking process,” Ford said. “We were looking for a home last year, and here we are two architects, and we probably went through 100 homes. … If I had something like this, I could have weeded out lots of houses that I would never have bothered with.”
Ford is hopeful that by the end of 2016 he will be able to focus his efforts full time on Virtutecture.
“I would like to expand and be one of the main providers for this service,” Ford said. “I think it is going to be the future for architectural renderings.”