As-built documentation helps a leading architect refresh iconic resort.
Renowned New York-based architecture firm Hart | Howerton faced a demanding challenge: to enhance one of the Eastern seaboard’s most iconic ocean resorts so “… the next generation of guests can say ‘this is a great place for our family for the next 50 years.’”
That design imperative comes from A. James Tinson, AIA, Hart | Howerton CEO in talking about the acclaimed Chatham Bars Inn. The Inn has been a Cape Cod, Massachusetts, landmark since 1914. Today it is widely regarded as one of New England’s premier summer resort destinations. To maintain that distinction, the owners initiated a $100 million top to bottom phased renovation, engaging Hart | Howerton for strategic planning and design. To get started, Tinson and his design team required a structural understanding of the 37-building resort that wasn’t available.
“In this case we had a site survey, which gave us a view of the overall property,” Tinson explains. “But we didn’t have building documentation. Without that, you don’t really know what’s built.”
Enter Prologue Systems, LLC, a Richmond, Va.-based laser scanning firm. “We recommend as-built documentation with laser scanning to clients all the time,” Tinson says. “Laser scanning existing conditions is one of the key things we put in place at the beginning of a project to make sure we have accurate information to work from.
“This is a campus of buildings with lots of different conditions and absolutely no repetition. What we wanted were accurate digital base files. Prologue worked quickly to deliver them. Prologue is a group we have confidence in.”
Prologue Systems offers laser scanning and 3D modeling services. Scanning the Chatham Bars Inn represented a series of challenges, not the least of them being the time of year (January) and weather (blizzard).
“Chatham Bars Inn is quite a place. But January is not peak season for a reason,” says Prologue founder and project manager Scott Reed. “We pulled in at 2:00 a.m. It was dumping snow. Snow introduces a lot of complications when you’re trying to laser scan an entire site.”
To facilitate the scanning of 37 disparate buildings, the Prologue team set up shop in a vacant cottage made available by Inn management. This ‘war room’ was the central clearinghouse for the assembly of scans from Prologue and three laser scanning subcontractors.* The workflow was meticulously orchestrated, with most of the scanning taking place at night over nearly two weeks.
“We’re all in with the FARO® platform,” Reed explains. “We pride ourselves on providing solutions, not point cloud files. Laser scanning as-built conditions may be cool-sounding to clients, but they can get intimidated by the massive amount of data. So we actually build 3D models from the point cloud. We saw this as something Hart | Howerton could leverage later, having a true 3D dimensionality of the structures.” What’s more, the Prologue team overlaid colorized scans over the models to improve visualization and supplemented that with aerial photography. Hart | Howerton received a comprehensive macro/micro understanding of the entire site, inside and out.
Prologue collected 1,551 scans. Every room of every building was captured – from bathrooms, closets, and parlors to kitchens, common spaces, and ballrooms. All data was collected from FARO Focus3D X 330 Laser Scanners.
FARO SCENE, a software platform, performed all registration. Registration was targeted, but occasionally the team had to use cloud to cloud.
With FARO SCENE, exterior scans were coordinated to a common survey control file. Individual building scans were then coordinated together as one master point cloud for the entire property. Autodesk® ReCap files and FARO VirtuSurv were generated for each building. Using the data, 37 Revit® 2015 models and one topographic surface were built. All models were linked into one Revit topo surface but delivered to Hart | Howerton as individual projects. This allowed for manageable project file sizes, but preserved complete coordination between projects.
Tinson says the Chatham Bars Inn ownership and their management team are “very happy.”
Elements of the project’s first phase opens to guests summer 2017. As for Prologue, Tinson “just wrote them into another proposal last week. They delivered in a good way. We look forward to working with them in the future. We recommend them to others.”
Reed says providing their client with 3D views “was a lot of fun.” The software allows the designer to “visualize what this building looks like from the stoop of the next building over. The geometry is accurate. You can plot your perspective from the second-floor balcony of the main lodge to see what the third cottage on the left looks like.
“It’s not an artist’s interpretation. The designer now has a single version of the truth,” Reed observes. As for their work for Hart | Howerton, Prologue has already worked with them on several as-built projects with the expectation of more to come.