DWA Crew Chief Mike Hernandez, LSIT, runs control on the Building 1 rooftop, which is composed of a series of skylight structures.

When the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) set out in 2008 to develop a new sustainable college campus by acquiring and repurposing a 32-acre complex of buildings in South Gate, Calif., the board of trustees soon realized that connecting the past to the future can present a formidable challenge.

Built in the 1920s and originally owned and operated by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. as a tire factory, the complex encompassed nearly 1 million square feet of space in four separate buildings that included an adult education facility; a two-story industrial building/warehouse; a vacant four-story building; and a large single-story building with a basement and mezzanine, part of which was often leased out to the movie industry as a soundstage while another part was used as a warehouse.

Through the creative vision of the master architectural firm Gensler, the district planned to adaptively reuse the single-story building (Building 1) and the vacant four-story building (Building 3) by integrating sustainable design concepts such as solar photovoltaic panels and green roof technologies, optimizing the existing operable skylight features for fresh air and natural lighting, and developing a greywater and rainwater collection system for water conservation. The adult education building (Building 2), which features a distinct architectural character, would continue to be leased by the existing tenant, while the two-story industrial building (Building 4) would be demolished to make room for a proposed parking structure and sports field.

A model of the Building 1 interior generated from 3D laser scans.

Before any design work could begin, the existing as-built documentation would need to be analyzed. Unfortunately, no such documents could be found. Project Architect Jerrold R. Penrose, AIA, LEED Accredited Professional, PE, of Los Angeles-based Tetra Design Inc., determined that new surveys were needed. But Penrose didn’t want to settle for conventional surveys with standard deliverables when he knew more-sophisticated technology was available--technology that could potentially help his clients manage their assets well into the future by providing substantially more data. “Given the size and complexity of the buildings,” Penrose says, “it certainly made sense to us that we should give serious consideration to what technolgy has to offer in order to create acurate background drawings of these quite varied structures.”

Two years earlier, at the 2006 American Institute of Architects National Convention, Penrose had stopped by the exhibit of Architectural Resource Consultants (ARC), an Irvine, Calif.-based firm that specializes in as-built surveys obtained through laser scanning. He remembered being impressed with the company’s capabilities and its collaborative approach. So when ARC bid on the opportunity to generate laser scans for the new campus, Penrose was quick to recommend the firm to the LACCD board of trustees. “The goal was to generate, from the field laser scan process, existing-conditions drawings in CAD that could be used by the designers in developing concepts for the adaptive reuse of the buildings and their unique and sustainable spaces,” Penrose says. “We also wanted drawing files for use in site and lab-materials testing to create the structural as-builts required for both design and approvals by the Division of the State Architect. Additionally, the laser scan files could provide a reservoir of 3D information about the building spaces that otherwise would be very difficult to obtain.”

The complex encompassed nearly 1 million square feet of space in four separate buildings. Building 1 was divided into two sections and was the most challenging to survey.

Creating an Action Plan

ARC partnered with a local land survey firm, Tustin, Calif.-based D. Woolley & Associates (DWA), to complete the survey work. While DWA would run the control for the project, ARC would handle the laser scans and total station measurements.

The DWA crew would end up setting a total of more than 300 permanent control points with each point double-determined using a Geodimeter 600 total station. The overall network would be tied to the local CORS using static GPS, and all GPS work would be done with Leica GPS System 500 units and fixed-height tripods. GPS raw data would be post processed with Leica Geo Office. All subsequent baseline computations would then be combined with the conventional survey raw data and adjusted with STAR*NET software, which allows the GPS vector data to be adjusted with conventional data. Once complete, the GPS work would allow the buildings to be tied digitally to any future site work, boundaries or legal documentation.

For the scan work, ARC decided that the project was large enough to justify purchasing a new Leica HDS6000 phase-based scanner, which included the latest version of Leica’s Cyclone 6.0 software. Under the leadership of Project Manager Jorge Vargas, the ARC crew would also use Leica TPS405 total stations running Leica fieldPro 2.1 software to survey the building shells as an overlay check on the scan data and to run secondary control off DWA’s primary control network.

It was an impressive lineup of tools. However, having the right gear means little without adequate access to the survey site. While the surveys for Buildings 2, 3 and 4 would be fairly straightforward, Building 1, which was divided into two sections by a demising wall, would prove to be another story.

During the first three weeks onsite, the crews had to work around a filming project in Building 1A.

Dodging Film Crews and Boxes

On June 24, 2008, DWA crew members David E. Woolley, PLS, Mike Hernandez, LSIT, Joshua Moore and Joaquin Rice arrived onsite to begin setting survey control throughout the interior and exterior of all four buildings as well as on the rooftops. The ARC crew was close behind. Almost immediately, the project team encountered their first building-access challenge. Terry Gene Bollea, better known by his wrestling name, Hulk Hogan, was using Building 1A--the project’s highest-priority space--to film the CMT series “Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling.”

It looked like the challenge might substantially delay the project. But the crews quickly learned that they had a small window each morning before filming started. “We began starting early in the day to set control and scan as much as possible until that day’s filming forced us to leave,” Vargas says. “This process continued until production on the TV series ended about three weeks into the survey project. At that point, the team had unfettered access to the entire space.”

ARC Project Manager Jorge Vargas and scan tech Darren DeGuia discuss the details of the scan work.

But that wasn’t the end of their problems. Building 1B was a fully operational distribution warehouse for products entering and leaving the U.S. through the Port of Long Beach. Much like the ebb and flow of the ocean, pallets and boxes continuously moved through the loading dock and aisles. “No sooner would our team set a point and occupy it, than the warehousemen would start shifting boxes, covering control points, and blocking the targets and backsights,” Vargas says.

Surveying after hours was not an option in that building since the occupants refused to grant access when they were not there. Eventually, the scope of work had to be redefined to focus solely on what was obtainable given the constraints and incompatible operations of the tenant and survey team. “As aisle ways were shut down due to warehouse operations, the crews had to mobilize to another part of the facility,” Vargas says.

Planning around obstacles was essential. “Since so much of our control work was done in and around a fully operational warehouse environment, we had to put quite a bit of thought into placing our control points where they would be safe from disturbances yet would also be available for efficient data collection,” says Hernandez, DWA crew chief. “All of the control points within the building were recessed into the hard cement floor to avoid having them destroyed by forklifts and pallets that were constantly being pushed around the worksite. We also worked in conjunction with ARC crews who set paper targets on vertical walls when conventional setups were impractical.”

The surveyors also had to complete a significant amount of their work in the dark. “Many of the areas within the warehouse are no longer provided with electricity, so much of the control survey work was performed in areas entirely devoid of light,” Hernandez says. “Our crew often had to gear up like we were headed for the mines with headlamps affixed to our hard hats.”

Surveyors had to navigate an expanse of structural mountains and canyons on the Building 1 rooftop.

Keeping the Project on Track

The survey of the Building 1 roof presented another substantial challenge. “The roof was made up of a series of massive skylight structures spanning the entire building,” Vargas says. “Some of these skylight structures were two stories high creating an expanse of structural mountains and canyons. This increased the number of points needed for the control network and required a significant number of additional scans due to obstructed lines of sight. The only way to traverse these obstacles was to constantly climb up and down numerous access ladders lugging and hoisting the survey gear along.”

Since the survey took place during the summer months, the crews were up against temperatures ranging from 90 F to 100 F. To combat the heat, the surveyors decided to work at night, which meant rigging lighting and watching for black widow spiders that might be lurking in the shadows.

As if that weren’t enough, an earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale occurred just 28 miles away in Chino Hills while the DWA and ARC crews were working. “The quake sent our crews and other building occupants scurrying to the parking lots,” Vargas says. “While there was no noticeable physical damage or injuries onsite, it did cause our team to shut down operations for the remainder of the day as a safety precaution.”

A model of Building 1 created in Autodesk Revit Architecture 2009.

One other glitch occurred when ARC attempted to unify the multiple sets of scan data. The firm was using a new high-end graphics computer, but the network configuration was not optimized for use with the Leica Cyclone software, so the data refused to merge. The source of the problem was finally discovered when Leica flew a technician to ARC’s corporate office, and the matter was soon resolved. Although this challenge delayed the project by several weeks, ARC was able to reach out to its nationwide network of partners (see sidebar) and bring in the necessary experts to assist with post processing until the project was back on schedule.

The entire project was completed in 12 weeks--just two weeks behind schedule, despite all the challenges encountered with Building 1. “The HDS6000 [a short-range scanner] worked great,” says John Russo, AIA, president and CEO of ARC. “Because of all of the blocked lines of sight on the roof of Building 1 (peaks and valleys), we would have had nearly the same number of setups with a long-range scanner but it would have taken longer. And without a scanner, this project would have been much more difficult--if not impossible--because of the roof’s complexity.”

Additionally, the 2D floor plans, reflected ceiling plans, roof plans, exterior building elevations and building sections provided to Tetra Design contain substantially more data at higher accuracies than what could have been obtained through traditional survey methods alone. ARC is currently experimenting with using the scan data in Autodesk Revit Architecture 2009 to create a building information model (BIM) that will generate and manage data over the course of the buildings’ life cycles.

Throughout the project, the collaborative approach between the DWA and ARC was crucial. “DWA’s crews stayed ahead of our crews, which allowed us to work at a more rapid pace,” Vargas says. “If our crews moved into an area where they needed more control, they simply called DWA’s team lead, and a DWA crew would be sent out immediately to set more points.”

Hernandez adds: “Jorge Vargas and his crew always kept us aware of their schedule. He had to be flexible in order to work around the restrictions of the buildings’ tenants. This required him to move our crew around--often on short notice--to areas that had a very small window of time available to him for data collection. The dynamics of the project faced the entire team with formidable obstacles. Good communication between the two firms was the key to allowing us to get around them.”

Editor’s note: The project described in this article received an honorable mention in POB’s 2009 Highlights in Surveying contest.

Sidebar 1: Positive Partnerships

The ARCnet Flexforce is a nationwide network of partners that enables ARC to rapidly deploy expert resources to a project anywhere in the country. “Partnering has proven to be a very effective approach to controlling our costs and improving our profitability,” explains John Russo, AIA, president and CEO of ARC. “We are able to keep our crews lean and carry a lower overhead than some of our larger competitors. And with our ARCnet Flexforce, we can instantly scale our business to take on new opportunities and scale back down when the opportunities have passed. Having partners allows us to focus on what we do best--document buildings.”

Many professionals in the ARCnet Flexforce are land surveyors who are highly skilled at running accurate control networks. “A solid control network is the foundation of an accurate building survey,” Russo says. “We have found that we can document a building much faster and with a higher degree of accuracy if we can focus on the portion of the scope we, as architects, are good at. Sharing our fee with our partners is looked at as being an advantage; it strengthens our relationships with them which, in turn, strengthens our network of resources.”

And the benefits often work both ways. According to Russo, ARC’s partners have also begun pulling ARC into projects as part of their team. “These relationships are built on trust,” he says. “As that trust builds, new opportunities often emerge for everyone.”

Sidebar 2: LEEDing Edge Design

Under a mandate by the LACCD board of trustees, all district campuses must comply with sustainable building practices as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification system. The internationally recognized LEED system provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built to improve performance in energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. With more than $6 billion to modernize its nine colleges, the LACCD’s Sustainable Building Program is one of the nation’s largest green construction efforts. The district has received numerous awards for its environmentally responsible construction projects.

For more information, visitwww.usgbc.orgorwww.laccdbuildsgreen.org.


Key Players

Architectural Resource Consultants (www.arc-corporate.com)

· John Russo, AIA, President and CEO

· Jorge Vargas, Associate AIA, Project Manager/Post Processing

· Mick Cunningham, RA, Production Manager

· Darren DeGuia, Scan Tech/ Post Processing

· Genaro Vargas, Scan Tech/ Post Processing

· Bill Ring, Survey Control

· Jason Vinal, As-Built Surveyor

· Robert Lawn, As-Built Surveyor

· Monika Yalovetzky, As-Built Surveyor

· Brian Flack, Post Processing

· Prafull Mhatre, Post Processing

· Randy Sharp, BIM Modeler

D. Woolley & Associates Inc. (www.dwoolley.com)

· David E. Woolley, PLS, Owner

· Mike Hernandez, LSIT, Crew Chief

· Joshua Moore, Survey Crew Member

· Joaquin Rice, Survey Crew Member

Tetra Design Inc. (www.tetradesign.net)

· Jerrold R. Penrose, AIA, LEED AP, PE, Project Architect

Gensler (www.gensler.com)


· Leica HDS6000 laser scanner

· Leica GPS System 500 series GPS units and fixed-height tripods

· Panasonic Toughbook laptops

· Geodimeter 600 total stations

· Leica TPS405 total stations

· Omni prisms


· Lecia Geo Office

· Leica Cyclone 6.0

· Leica fieldPro 2.1


· Autodesk AutoCAD 2008

· Autodesk Revit Architecture 2009