3D Modeling BIM Historic Preservation Laser Scanning Lidar Surveying

Existing Conditions Historic Building Capture with VLX

image of building Existing Conditions Challenges the VLX

As-built capture company Existing Conditions produced its best work yet with the help of the cutting-edge NavVis VLX.


• Existing Conditions tested NavVis VLX to speed up large-scale as-built documentation
• To stress-test it, they used it as part of a hybrid workflow on a 350,000 sq foot capture
• NavVis VLX produced high-quality data while reducing overall capture time by 75% and budget by 25%
• With minimal control, the point cloud exhibited so little drift that it “snapped into place” with the drone and TLS data
• Ease of use was so high that adding NavVis VLX to the Existing Conditions workflow was “seamless”

Atlantic 470

Existing Conditions was founded in 1997 to capture high-quality as-built documentation as efficiently and accurately as possible — while still offering a cost-effective service.

Last year, their reputation landed them a project to document the 14-floor, 350,000 sq foot Independence Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts. The 100-year-old building had recently changed hands, and the architectural firm tasked with updates needed as-built documentation for projects to improve energy efficiency, update the building to attract new clients, and perform a myriad of other projects.

Capturing the historic site presented several challenges. It is located in downtown Boston, fronting the Rose Kennedy Parkway, a major tourist attraction with a lot of pedestrian traffic. The pathway of a local harbor walk passes through the property. And finally, a large portion of the building sits on the pier itself, right over the Fort Point Channel.

Better, faster data

According to VP of operations Brian Ely, these challenges were fairly typical for Existing Conditions. In the past, the company had documented many buildings of this complexity and size. Even going back to their early days using total stations, measuring tape, and graph paper.

The team’s challenge, instead, was to use this site as a stress test for a new way of working that would deliver better documentation faster than ever before.

Breaking the status quo

In the past, Existing Conditions would have captured the site using some combination of terrestrial laser scanners (TLS). This would have offered them the highest accuracy possible. The problem, says Ely, is that TLS just aren’t nimble enough for their workflows. “We’re not typical surveyors where we’re on a project for a long time,” he says. “Our timeline is much faster.”

That’s why the team historically sped up the process by performing their TLS scans in grayscale. Capturing in color with their industry-standard systems would have required 3x the time and kept them in the building far past the end of the timeline.

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