HDR Creates Virtual Pearl Harbor Experience for 75th Anniversary

Project Applies Architecture and Engineering Technology as Never Before

HDR helped bring the history of Pearl Harbor to a new generation by leveraging technology usually reserved for building and infrastructure design.

In partnership with Pacific Historic Parks and the National Park Service, the firm developed a collection of virtual reality experiences. They allow users to learn in a way previously not possible about the attack on Pearl Harbor that plunged America into World War II. Release of these new VR experiences coincided with the 75th anniversary of the attack, on Dec. 7.

Three of the VR experiences designed by HDR are packaged in the new “Pearl Harbor VR Tour” app, available from iPhone and Google Play app stores. "Our three new Pearl Harbor virtual reality tours will be a unique way to learn, view and 'feel' what happened on Dec. 7, during the infamous attack, and understand how it changed our world forever," said Neil Sheehan, chairman of the Board of Directors of Pacific Historic Parks.

These three VR experiences offer users an accurate account of the bombing of Battleship Row, a virtual walking tour along decks of the 1941 USS Arizona and a detailed journey through today’s USS Arizona Memorial. The VR app is built on the Google Cardboard platform and can be experienced by anyone in the world, using an Android or iOS mobile device.

To create virtual worlds, HDR applied the same technologies it uses to simulate building and infrastructure design in advance of construction. This allows for optimization of the design at a much earlier phase in the project life-cycle. It also allows HDR’s clients to experience their projects by seeing and moving through virtual environments. The result is a higher level of design collaboration and understanding.

At the harbour itself, stationary VR viewers from Owlized Inc. are being installed to allow visitors to “witness the attack” by looking into the viewer. The virtual experience inside, also created by HDR, juxtaposes historic and present-day Pearl Harbor as users stand on the now peaceful shoreline.

Another app, currently in beta testing, will be released in coming weeks. It adds a new dimension to World War II Valor at the Pacific National Monument. The app will be an interactive, smart-phone-based tour and digital portal that can be used by anyone, anywhere. Users will be able to access hundreds of relics, oral histories, interactive maps and more. The app will bring online for the first time artifacts previously warehoused and terabytes of historical data.

“This project was an exciting opportunity to look at our Applied Technologies practice in a new light,” HDR Chief Technology Officer Raj Prasad said. “It demonstrates what’s possible by combining information management with 3-D modelling and virtual reality. We are honoured to be a part of bringing the past to life for future generations.”

About HDR

HDR has partnered with clients to shape communities and push the boundaries of what's possible since 1917. We specialize in engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services. With nearly 10,000 employees in more than 225 locations around the world, we think global and act local.