Point Cloud Scans Ease Data Gathering on Existing Sites

Precise data from a site analysis to begin a project is a requirement and oftentimes can be a hindrance for any architecture, engineering or construction team. Many site visits come into play to gather data—and sometimes correct data—and it consumes a great deal of time. Finding the most efficient and accurate way to gather the specifications of any building site is a priority to reduce rework and cost.

At Merriman Anderson Architects (MAA), our design team began to incorporate point cloud scans to gather data of an existing site. Our team found a solution with point cloud scans and has noticed an improvement in the accuracy of the data we are able to gather for existing buildings and sites, the speed in which we can obtain the information, and the benefits it will bring in the future when we need to reference a historic site and what the specifications of a particular space was before it was renovated.

The scans are also able to be incorporated into virtual reality (VR) models to give our clients a more immersive experience, which allows them to more accurately visualize the space rather than the non-immersive VR technology we have used in the past.

Benefits of Point Cloud Scans

Point clouds are developed from laser scans of existing buildings or construction sites. The laser will hit a surface, and a point with three-dimensional coordinates is generated. All of the points from a site make up the point cloud, which then becomes the 3D scan of the site.

The benefits of point cloud scans include the availability of the exact representation of the building as it stands, which can save time, resources and money and provide less changes in the early stages of design. In the case of a historic building or site, having a record of what the historic building looked like before it was renovated can be extremely useful to reference later.

We are able to import the 3D model into SketchUp or Revit to help build accurate models and representation of a site or building to not only draw off of but trace with the accurate data. The data helps inform and remind the architecture and design team of the correct dimensions of a space, what the conditions of the building or site are, where an electrical closet is located inside a room or any other visualization needed. The data is easily accessible through the model without having to hop on a plane and make a site visit or redo work if mistakes in data were found.

MAA uses point cloud technology in the early concept design phases to further illustrate our design intent to our clients. This allows us to use visualizations to convey our design whether we are producing renderings, animations or VR. We also use point cloud technology to produce our built drawings for our historical renovation work, which allows us to be more accurate very early on, so we do not run into issues in the field during construction.

About the Author

Taylor Cell
Taylor Cell is 3D visualization manager at Merriman Anderson Architects.

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