This paper describes the deployment of projection-based virtual reality (VR) systems and applications in support of architecture design studio and construction planning education and research in the Immersive Environments Laboratory (IEL) at the Pennsylvania State University. The lab has been developed as a test bed and proving ground to assess the value of immersive VR for day-to-day teaching and research in architecture, engineering, design arts and other disciplines. We describe the evolution of IEL systems through several locally developed designs as we approach the goal of providing affordable, scalable and relatively easy to use immersive display solutions. The work presented is within the context of teaching and research in architecture engineering and design. With a modicum of creativity, the open and modular methods used in developing the lab should be easily adaptable to new VR applications within many disciplines in science and engineering.