The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Washington Post launches augmented reality series highlighting iconic billion-dollar buildings

The Washington Post today launched an augmented reality series that will give readers a first-hand look inside some of the world’s iconic billion dollar buildings.

“With this technology, we can insert news into a reader’s reality simply using a phone—no headgear or physical triggers required—to recreate state-of-the art physical spaces,” said Joey Marburger, head of product for The Post. “Building on what we learned after launching our first augmented reality story last year and with advances in AR, we’re excited to continue experimenting with this form of storytelling.”

Through 3D visuals and audio narration by The Post’s art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott, readers will be able to examine details that make these high-tech and high-cost buildings innovative. The first site highlighted in the series is the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, Germany where the democratic nature of the structure allows each visitor to hear and see the same no matter where they sit.

“Criticism has always been about robust description,” said Kennicott. “But allowing the viewer to move around in a space of their volition is a game changer for architecture critics, and this is the first time we’ve had access to technology that simulates being present in the actual building.”

After tapping the story, accessible via the Post’s classic app, readers can point their smartphone’s camera at the ceiling of any room they are in. With clear calls to action, the camera takes over to activate audio and 3D content. Through simple navigation, they will be guided through the creation of the concert hall’s famous ceiling, which is composed of 10,000 unique panels each algorithmically generated to create state-of-the-art acoustics. The experience is exclusively available for iOS devices.

The Post is planning for additional augmented reality stories later this year. The billion-dollar building series is sponsored by Audi.