During a 2010 presentation during the Nonprofit Technology Conference at CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, several people requested information about “virtual tours.” I admit I was was a bit surprised, having only mentioned the concept in passing.
The idea behind a “virtual tour” of a building or other physical entity that has not yet been constructed, is to better convey how it will look once funding is secured and construction has taken place. “Virtual tours” help convey the excitement of a capital project and can inspire donors to contribute. I have found “virtual tours” to be a first class solicitation tool.
I’ve worked on three “virtual tours” in my career, each one created with the help of a good friend, A. Javier Huerta, AIA, principal with CLK Architects & Associates in Corpus Christi, Texas. If you have an interest in pursuing this kind of idea further, I am sure Javier would be happy to help.
I have posted my favorite of the three “virtual tours,” created for the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi, Texas on YouTube.
I can say without hesitation this visualization of the new Legorreta + Legorreta-designed museum wing changed our fundraising campaign dramatically. In brief, the Art Museum of South Texas had tried to raise funds for the project, but its plans were derailed by 9-11. It took several years to get back on track, and by that time the project budget had doubled and the architectural design had changed to something quite a bit more sophisticated.
I was hired to pull the project back together from a fundraising standpoint. Javier Huerta was able to take our “flat” architectural drawings, and using a sophisticated architectural software program, he showed viewers what the building would look like once constructed. In fact, the virtual tour made the building look so real, when I took copies of the tour on CD to the State Capitol to present it to regional legislators, they thought it had already been constructed!
The virtual tour was subsequently played over and over again as we made call after call on prospective donors, some of whom did not believe the building would actually be realized. The visualization helped investors gain confidence, and one by one, gifts were made until we attained our goal to fund the new William B. and Maureen Miller Wing.
For those seeking additional information about the Art Museum of South Texas, click on the photo of the building under construction to reach its website. When I completed my work for AMST in December, 2006, I collected all pertinent documents relating to the project, and placed them in the Museum’s archive in Mary and Jeff Bell Library on the campus of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
My work on this project was underwritten by the Museum’s foundation. Although Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the City of Corpus Christi have been very kind to provide some annual funding to sustain the Museum’s operations over time, fundraising for the new Miller wing was privately supported.
After the great architect Ricardo Legorreta passed away in December, 2011, I wrote a brief, personal tribute on Tumblr.