How can laser scanning and 3D modeling be used to bring value to an exceptionally large design & construction project on an active hospital campus? That’s the question the design team asked when they reached out to TrueScan regarding the Washington University Medical Center Campus Renewal project. TrueScan had the answers and, after numerous discussions and interviews, the team was selected to provide laser scanning and Revit modeling for the project.
Project Background & Issues
The project was to renovate, demolish & create new construction across much of the 16-block campus of the Washington University Medical Center (WUMC) in St. Louis, Missouri. This included 3 active hospitals, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital & The Washington University School of Medicine.
This was the second phase of a long-term project. During the first phase of the project, hand measurements were taken in the field and existing as-built drawings were used to document existing conditions in most locations. Above ceiling information in critical areas was checked by the design team in the field using visual verifications and photographs. Because most of the buildings ranged in age from 60-100 years old, many of the existing as-builts were not accurate and existing conditions were not well documented. This led to numerous issues that arose during construction. Due to the issues in the first phase, the project team decided to use laser scanning & 3D modeling to give a more accurate and complete assessment of existing conditions for the designers in Phase 2. It was a more expensive option, but one they felt brought a great deal more value to the project.
Reality Capture Scope of Work
There were 22 buildings included in the scope of work, including 3 active hospitals. This included interior & exterior scanning, above ceiling work, critical hospital and lab areas and parking garages. Strict regulations & infection protocols had to be followed due to the active hospital environment. The TrueScan team was in the field working 7 days a week for approximately 8 weeks. Field teams were switched out every 2 weeks to provide rest for the crews. Scanning work was typically performed overnight, to minimize disruptions to patients and hospital staff. By the end of the project the TrueScan team had performed approximately 3,500 scans. Above ceiling scans were extremely tedious, due to the infection protocols that had to be followed.
Once the scan data was collected, it was sent back to the office at the end of each day. The TrueScan team registered & processed the data as it came in and began the task of modeling areas as point clouds became available. The ultimate deliverable was a point cloud of all scanned areas that included Realviews and a Revit model to the design team. Work began in late February and the final model was delivered in late June. TrueScan hired two sub-consultants to assist with the Revit modeling work due to the accelerated schedule for the project.
Issues & Lessons Learned
As with any project of this size there were issues encountered and lessons learned along the way. The TrueScan team actively worked up front to anticipate any potential issues before they arose. As with any project of this size, unanticipated problems come up and there must be a plan. Some of the things to consider on a project like this include:
- You must have a plan up front – Planning how to tackle a project this large is critical. With so many different types of spaces in a hospital, understanding access requirements, infection protocols, etc planning is essential.
- Coordination is Critical – having an open line of communication with hospital administrators & staff is critical. Many areas are restricted and access is hard to get. The TrueScan team used a full-time site coordinator to coordinate access for field crews in many different buildings. This turned out to be extremely beneficial to keep the team on schedule as the project moved forward.
- Setting Survey Control is Essential – Working in an environment with numerous buildings, especially ones with multiple floors a good survey control network must be established to maintain accuracy. With accuracy requirements of approximately ½” across the entire project, a qualified surveyor must be engaged to achieve this.
- Have a High-Speed Internet Connection Available – Transmitting large files on a daily basis over the internet can really slow a project down without a high-speed connection.
- You Need Lots of Storage – TrueScan collected almost 3 terabytes of data over the course of the project. You must have ample storage and the ability to work with large files.
- Have a “Plan B” – There were many days when the field crews couldn’t gain access to the areas they had planned to work in due to patients or critical hospital activities. The TrueScan field crews had to skip around to different areas often from building to building, slowing the process and making our control network between buildings critical.
Ultimately, TrueScan utilized both its extensive experience working on healthcare projects and its knowledge of completing very large and complex projects to help ensure the project was a success. Interruptions of day-to-day hospital operations were kept to a minimum, while still insuring the project was completed on time.
Using their extensive surveying knowledge, combined with an understanding of complex geometries and reality capture technology, the TrueScan team was able to bring an understanding of the existing buildings that would not have been achievable by typical field documentation practices.