Web presence: 215 West gets interactive

215 West furniture arranger tool

Two new interactive features popped up on the 215 West Web site this morning: a new “furniture arranger” tool that allows users to position beds, tables, sofas, shelves, and rugs inside each of the tower’s 19 different floor plans, and an map of attractions and places of interest within a two-mile radius of the building, including street addresses, links to destination Web sites, and a “carbon footprint” graph that compares the environmental impact of traveling by foot, car, or public transit.

I’ve seen neighborhood maps on a variety of development Web sites, and while 215 West’s differs in some superficial ways, it’s still just a neighborhood map. On the other hand, the furniture arranger is the kind of tool I’d love to see on every development site. Even as an observer and reporter, I find myself sketching beds and tables into paper floor plans, so I’m sure real home shoppers are doing the same thing. Here, it’s even easier — for example, twin, double, queen, and king-size beds come with preset dimensions, taking out most of the hassle of measuring or converting to scale. (You can do that, too — the arranger comes with a measuring tool and allows users to rescale pieces of furniture to custom sizes.)

Obviously this kind of tool has its limits: You can’t see the unit in three dimensions, and you’re relying on the developer and Web site designers to provide accurate floor plans at the outset. So no, it’s not the same as walking through a furnished model, but it’s good enough to give you an idea of how a home plays before you ever set foot inside it, and that’s better — a lot better — than nothing at all.

The 50-story 215 West is under construction at 215 W Washington St in the Loop. The building should be ready for occupancy in spring 2010.

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