The use of scanning and Reality Computing to capture and design in the context of existing conditions makes perfect sense. But is it worth it? Any capture process—from spending time at a site with a measuring tape and notebook, to using high-definition laser scanners to produce point clouds—has a cost. How do those costs compare to the benefits resulting from those efforts? In other words, what’s the ROI (return of investment)?
One architecture firm recently calculated the ROI of using Reality Computing on an urban renovation project and can definitively state that, yes…it’s worth it. In fact, their ROI was 325 percent!
Canadian firm Turner Fleischer provides a full range of architectural and interior design services for residential condominium, mixed-use, and retail projects. The firm uses Autodesk Revit software to support its design efforts, and has also incorporated laser scanning technology in its BIM workflows.
One of the firm’s recent design projects was the conversion of existing office space into an urban food store. The 12,000 square foot project, located downtown Toronto, includes the partial renovation of two levels of the office building. The underground parking garage will continue to function as a parking garage, but must also accommodate a new compressor room for the store. The ground level will house the store itself, but this space has minimal headroom clearances. A typical retail project has 22-24 feet of space from the finished floor to the underside of the concrete slab ‘ceiling’. But on this project, there was only 13 feet. In addition, the designers had to contend with the existing building services that needed to remain as well as the new services needed for the store.
Knowing that these close quarters would prove challenging, Turner Fleischer decided to perform a detailed laser scan of the space to determine the exact dimensions of the existing structure and building services. The precision of the scanned data would help the designers maximize headroom and décor heights, while accommodating the existing and proposed building services.
Designing in the context of a virtual as-built
Using a FARO Focus3D X 330 scanner, the team captured 63 black and white scans. This reality-captured data was then processed using Autodesk ReCap. The resulting point cloud was linked into the firm’s Revit design model and used for further design development and clash detection. The firm had already completed a design concept in Revit, using as-built drawings of the space for spatial coordination. But when the team merged the point cloud and the Revit model, it was obvious that these as-builts were not as-built.
As an example, some existing plumbing from the floors above were hanging from the concrete ceiling and then angled down and ran along a structural column. Turner Fleischer had already coordinated its design concept around these pipes, based on the afore-mentioned as-built drawings. But when they reviewed their design in the context of the existing conditions point cloud, it was clear that this pipe configuration interfered with a proposed bulkhead and would have been visible to store customers. Knowing this in advance, they easily adjusted their design—enlarging the bulkhead in that area to fully conceal the pipes.
By using the point cloud and the Revit model for coordination, Turner Fleischer resolved many similar conflicts by making minor design changes—moving lighting or signage, expanding or lowering bulkheads, revising column cladding, and so on. In other situations, where design changes would have compromised the quality of the store’s décor or its operation, the landlord relocated the interfering building services.
The scan of the parking garage revealed that the concrete floor sloped slightly, approximately 8 ½ inches from one side to the other in the compressor room area. The compressor room houses the store’s main refrigeration systems and requires adequate headroom clearances above the equipment for building services as well as maintenance. The inches lost from that unexpected slope would have exacerbated the headroom situation. Knowing this issue in advance, Turner Fleischer coordinated with the landlord to have the slab lowered and flattened.
The ability to check the design concept against the existing conditions point cloud was particularly important for the store’s HVAC system. The Revit-based design concept already included the HVAC system, but upon closer inspection, it conflicted with many portions of the scanned existing building services. Some of the services could be relocated, but others could not. As a result, Turner Fleischer and the mechanical consultant created several different design options that would simultaneously accommodate the needs of the store functions while minimizing the need to lower ceiling heights. The team then reviewed the proposed options (in the context of the scanned reality-captured data) with the client to help them make a more-informed design decisions.
The benefits and ROI
By finding and fixing conflicts prior to construction, Turner Fleischer helped its client avoid:
- unnecessary replacement of expensive equipment such as compressors or refrigerated cases
- construction delays and cost overruns
- delay of store opening
- diminished customer experience
In fact, the firm estimated a 325 percent ROI for its use of Reality Computing on this project! The ROI was determined by comparing the cost of the laser scanning and processing to discover and resolve interferences during design, versus the approximate cost of resolving the issues during construction.
For more information, click here to see a replay of a recent webinar where Turner Fleischer gave an in-depth presentation about its use of Reality Computing on the project.
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