Urban Environments & Design Analysis

The main focus of the Urban Simulation Team at UCLA is a long-term effort to build a real-time virtual reality model of the entire Los Angeles basin for use by architects, urban planners, emergency response teams, and government entities. The Team has already finished major sections of the city including downtown, Exposition Park, the Pico Union district, El Pueblo, Mid-Wilshire, Wilshire-"Miracle Mile", LAX, Westwood, UCLA, Hollywood Blvd. and Vine St., MacArthur Park, Playa Vista, and a portion of South Central. Negotiations are currently underway for other areas of the city.

Download a four-page PDF: Urban Simulation Team description with project case studies.

When completed, the entire Virtual Los Angeles model will cover an area well in excess of 10,000 square miles and will elegantly scale from satellite images to street level views accurate enough to allow the signs in the windows of the shops and the graffiti on the walls to be legible. The finished model is estimated to exceed 1 terabyte in size and will be maintained on a large multi-client server that will allow multiple simulation clients to fly, drive and/or walk through the Virtual L.A. Model simultaneously.

Beyond architectural and urban planning applications, the possible uses of the model are endless. For example, the team has been in discussions with the City of Los Angeles about the feasibility of using the model in conjunction with Global Positional System (GPS) transponders to accurately locate and remotely manage Emergency Response Vehicles in real-time.



Virtual LA

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Transportation Studies

The Urban Simulation Team at UCLA has completed a number of transportation related studies.

These include: modeling new transit stations and placing them into their community context; creating visualizations of right of way alternatives for light rail transit; modeling new transit related commercial development; creating dimensionally accurate models of large segments of the Los Angeles freeway system; visualizing the output of sophisticated vehicle movement simulation models; real-time visualization of vehicle movement; visualizing new right of way and stations for dedicated Bus Rapid Transit alignments; creating dimensionally and visually accurate models of underground subway stations (with both the public and ancillary areas); and real-time 3-dimensional in-car navigation systems.


Historic Reconstruction
& Education

Real-time virtual reality offers unique opportunities for recreating and exploring historic environments. Because real-time virtual reality approximates the experience of a building in a manner not feasible until recently, an educator can 'tour' students through a modeled environment with the same freedoms as in the physical world. She can choose to stop, turn, change directions, look up at the ceiling, examine a painting, or look out the window -- thereby providing the students with an understanding of the modeled environment unequalled by static two-dimensional representations.

Virtual reality has taken hold with the classics community because of its applications for the reconstruction of urban spaces or buildings that no longer exist. For their exhibit “Beyond Beauty: Antiquities as Evidence,” the J. Paul Getty Trust commissioned the Team's to reconstruct Trajan's Forum in Rome (c. AD 114) based on the work of Northwestern University archaeologist James Packer. Equally compelling are opportunities to create extant, yet inaccessible, spaces to be explored from the classroom or museum.