Daily digest: AECOM is moving its global headquarters to Dallas, Facebook gambles on VR meetings, and more

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Daily digest: AECOM is moving its global headquarters to Dallas, Facebook gambles on VR meetings, and more

Facebook is betting that the next big thing will be fully virtual office spaces, but they’ll look exactly like the ones we already have. (Courtesy Facebook/Oculus)

[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article contained the sentence “Artist Pamela Council will soon debut her worst work of public art in Times Square,” but this was an error. The story has been corrected to read “[…] will soon debut her first work of public art.”]

Greetings and welcome back to another Thursday roundup, square in the middle of the slow march towards autumn. As employers debate a return to the physical office in September, this morning Facebook revealed a more novel approach. Will it catch on? Only time will tell.

Here’s what you need to know today:

Facebook is banking on VR office space as the future of work

Iffy on returning to the office? Earlier today Facebook revealed an alternative, leveraging the power of virtual reality’s (VR) endless capabilities to create weird and wild environments for… Horizon Workrooms, its virtual office program. If you have an Oculus Quest 2, you can strap in and experience the Workrooms beta right now and test the project’s hand and head tracking capabilities (allowing users to take handwritten notes and look at different presentation screens). Although the adoption of VR technology has swelled during the pandemic, Facebook’s gamble on the “metaverse” (a shared virtual reality space coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash), requires that everyone at a company have access to a $299 Oculus Quest 2 just to recreate a typical office environment. While this could come with the upside of creating a sense of shared intimacy among meeting participants, detractors have pointed out it’s just another hoop to jump through and that VR meetings lack the facial nuances of even the most basic Zoom meeting.

AECOM will relocate its global headquarters from Los Angeles to Dallas

Global engineering, design, and construction firm AECOM is moving its global headquarters from L.A. to Dallas effective October 1. Although the company’s C-suite is moving south to join the 1,200 employees already in Dallas, 2,500 employees in California will remain where they are, in both a bid to attract new talent and capitalize on the Lone Star State’s lower business tax rate.

H/t to Construction Dive

Times Square will get its first-ever fountain this fall

Artist Pamela Council will soon debut her first work of public art in Times Square, an 18-foot-tall public fountain enclosed in a carapace of close to 400,000 colorful acrylic nails. Sponsored by the Times Square Arts, A Fountain for Survivors will reportedly open on October 7 as a multisensory experience, acting as an oasis for tranquility and reflection in the city’s busiest intersection.

H/t to Artnet News

Indoor plastic barriers likely do nothing to stop the spread of COVID

If you’ve been out to eat any time in the last year and a half, there’s a good chance that you’ve sat at or at least seen tables (or counters) divided up by plastic barriers to cut down on the spread of airborne droplets containing coronavirus. But the million-dollar question is, do they actually work? Not really, according to researchers polled by the New York Times, who also noted that in some cases, those barriers could disrupt the flow of air through a space and create pockets where COVID could accumulate. Instead of allowing air carrying pathogens to leave a space, the tangle of barriers in a classroom, restaurant, or salon, create eddies that prevent clean air from refreshing the room.

H/t to the New York Times

Mecanoo wins the European Prize for Architecture

Dutch firm Mecanoo is the winner of the 2021 European Prize for Architecture, awarded annually since 2010 by the The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum. More specially, Francine Houben and Dick van Gameren were selected as the 2021 European Prize for Architecture Laureates and the firm will be formally honored with a gala dinner and ceremony at the Acropolis in Athens on September 10.

H/t to Bustler