An Architectural Practice Transformed

by Nadia Anis, AIA
31 May 2012

Tagsarchitecture, building documentation, laser scanning, workflow

When I first encountered laser scanning eight years ago, I was part of a team documenting the Temple of Ramses II in upper Egypt. It never occurred to me that just a handful of years later, the technology would change every aspect of my architectural practice.

Our architects and engineers concern themselves primarily with the diagnosis and corrective design of existing structures. Much of our effort used to be verifying and documenting existing conditions and taking field measurements in order to produce required repair and reconstruction documents.

We discovered that documenting existing conditions by means of scanning provided us with data that had much greater significance than measurement.

Scanning enabled us to pare our field work time and devote more time and attention to critical pre-design tasks, ultimately leading to a more intelligent design process. We could reliably access the site information needed for design from our desktop and could ascertain the comprehensiveness of our design by reviewing it against the data, thus reducing our liability due to errors and omissions.

When issuing construction documents for bidding, we can now provide remote viewing to the bidders, giving them the ability to examine every aspect of the project. This leads to a notable reduction in the exclusions typically attached to the bid to protect the contractor from unknown conditions. As a result, our clients receive lower and more accurate pricing.

During construction we continue the use of the remote viewer, thereby eliminating unnecessary site visits either to choose locations for mockups or to respond to questions related to identifying conditions or locations. The ability to access the data remotely has changed the nature of our communication with clients and has allowed us to keep our clients better informed and positioned to make necessary decisions.

Since contractors cannot claim lack of knowledge of conditions that are captured in the scan data, change orders have decreased dramatically.

Work related to diagnostic evaluation and expert work on litigation also benefits from laser scanning. Scanning is used increasingly as a tool to assess the performance of certain components and gauge their compliance with codes or standards. From defective framing to masonry deterioration, scanning shortens the time it takes to resolve disputes by presenting reliable data that can withstand scrutiny.

Our scan service providers have become pivotal to our team and have allowed us to deliver a better work product at a lower overall cost to our clientele.

It’s a change for the better, all the way around.

Nadia Anis, AIA

Nadia Anis is a partner at Ferrari Moe, LLP, a medium-size, full service architecture and engineering firm located in San Rafael, Calif. She also serves on the leadership team for the U.S. Institute of Building Documentation (USIBD).


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