Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Committee Chair(s)

Benjamin George (Committee Chair)


Benjamin George


David Evans


Andreas Wesemann


Virtual reality (VR) is a tool that has been utilized by designers for decades now. In most cases, VR has been utilized in the latter part of the design process. More specifically, VR has been used most commonly towards the design review phase of the design process where people are often looking for a final design suggestion. With regards to the design review phase, there have been many reports discussing the effectiveness of VR. However, there has been little to no research regarding the use of VR in the site analysis phase of the design process.

This thesis develops a methodology for generating a three-dimensional (3-D) terrain model using drones and photogrammetry software, then importing the 3-D terrain model to an immersive virtual reality program, along with GIS data and other online resources, to conduct a large-scale site analysis using VR.

This thesis uses the site Powder Mountain, Utah to explore ways of integrating VR into the site analysis phase design process. Powder Mountain includes 10,000 acres of rough terrain and steep slopes. The analysis focus was prioritized by existing program elements generated by Summit Powder Mountain.

The results of this study suggest that this methodology can enhance the site analysis process by increasing the connectivity of designers to existing site conditions, allowing designers to frequently reference site conditions as they proceed to later phases of the design process. VR also provides designers with a means to express their site analysis in a manner that is spatially connected to the site, rather than via abstracted 2-dimensional models and representations.