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What if you could visit a NYC development site and visualize the proposed project finished and in-scale just by holding up your phone or mobile device? That's what Brian August, tech entrepreneur and founder of 110stories, has in mind with his in-development application designed to allow developers, architects, and other real estate stakeholders to tell their stories in interactive, engaging and shareable ways. We caught up with Brian just before the holiday season to receive a super-cool demo and to better understand what this forthcoming application is all about.

What is the application?

Brian August: The ARchiTechTour application is a first-of-its-kind, proof-of-concept mobile experience by 110stories created for A’18, the national conference of the American Institute of Architects, which was held at the Javits Center this past summer. ARchiTechTour allows for two separate immersive experiences, one involving the Javits Center and a second involving Hudson Yards and the High Line. The experience combines the use of augmented reality, 3D models, 360° photography, renderings, video, and drawings, while taking advantage of the advanced locational and haptic capabilities of the latest smartphones and tablets.
Brian-August-03 Screenshot of what a user would see through a mobile device when focused on a surface
Javits-Center-04 The triangular markers indicate areas to tap for more information

What was the inspiration behind the project?

BA: ARchiTechTour was born out of my experience creating an immersive storytelling project about the Twin Towers in Manhattan, launched in September 2011 for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The name of that project was 110stories, which was an homage to the height of both original towers. The app received a lot of media attention and support from of 500 Kickstarter backers. It also introduced me to Apple and Google, both of whom provided me with invaluable technical and marketing support. A few years after that project, it became clear to me that the combination of iconic architecture, augmented reality, and storytelling could be an invaluable tool for real estate developers. It was also obvious to me that the name of the business should be 110stories.
" became clear to me that the combination of iconic architecture, augmented reality, and storytelling could be an invaluable tool for real estate developers."

Do you envision building a platform for the public to use?

BA: Yes, I do think that eventually, there should be a platform that anyone should be able to use. But for the time being, as we build the business, we are focused on creating products and providing services that will allow real estate developers to tell the story of a future project. Of course everyone, including the general public, should be allowed to use that tool.

What are two NYC projects, buildings, or scenes (past, present, or future) that you would want to capture in AR?

BA: As far as a past project is concerned, for several reasons, I would love to build an immersive mobile experience of the original Penn Station on the site of present-day Madison Square Garden. It was undoubtedly one of NYC’s most beautiful structures (Google it) and, in the mid 1960’s, its sudden demolition caused disbelief, public outrage, and eventually the birth of the present-day Landmarks Preservation Commission. There is also a current movement to build a new Penn Station and move Madison Square Garden (whose lease with the city expires in 2023, and which was originally located in Madison Square). That gives the project a past/present/future component which is especially interesting.
Madison Square-Garden-03 Concept by Skidmore Owings & Merrill for a future Madison Square Garden/Penn Station? (SOM)
As for a future project, as a resident of Downtown Brooklyn, I’d like to help envision 9 Dekalb Avenue, which is planned to arise alongside the iconic (and landmarked) Dime Savings Bank right next to Junior’s. At 1,066 feet, it will be an icon at the center of Brooklyn’s burgeoning new skyline and its tallest building by several hundred feet. It is designed by SHoP Architects, best known for the Barclay’s Center and the Domino Sugar Refinery mega-project in Williamsburg. I was at the presentation on 9 Dekalb that SHoP gave to the Landmarks Preservation Commission a few years back, and was struck by the thoughtfulness with which they handled the proposed integration of a turn-of-the-century landmark with a super-tall skyscraper. Not an easy task, and it would be a wonderful and meaningful story to tell immersively as it rises over the next few years.
9-Dekalb-03 Renderings of 9 Dekalb via SHoP Architects and JDS Development

What do you think is the future of augmented reality in real estate and in general?

BA: I believe that augmented reality is a technology and a storytelling device that has only scratched the surface of its vast potential. Its power is in marrying the ever-more sophisticated technology with a narrative that does justice to the subject. People yearn to better understand things that do not yet exist, or may have existed in the past. Augmented reality allows one to stand at the site of a future project and not only to “see” what its going to look like, but also to feel, hear and even smell the environment in which it will eventually exist. This is especially exciting for one planning to live or work there. The more senses you can trigger, the deeper and more visceral the understanding you can convey. In the future, I see augmented reality becoming an integral part of a developer and broker’s marketing strategy, especially in the more frequent situations where someone wants to buy or rent, but is remotely located.
Tunnel-Vision-03 Promotional image from the app Tunnel Vision
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