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Above-ceiling Digital 3D Models

By Doug Brinley posted Mar 22, 2013 6:31 PM

Last year on the TAP, several members identified challenges in technical environments accessing and gathering information in concealed spaces, particularly above ceilings.  The workflow we developed with the TAP members' input is highly relevant to BIM for renovations.

We worked with two institutional clients to test workflows using our 'image-assisted metrology'.  A couple months of research and development later, our team has worked out a 'measure-to-model' technique for above-ceiling applications.  We'd like to hear from members who have solved the problem of economically locating and accurately modeling structure and building systems above ceilings. 

Our technique elevates our 'hot-rodded' instrument through a removable panel or light fixture.  We have special lighting, supplemental camera, video camera, and optical accessories that work in concert.  The office workflow takes the field software output to AutoCAD and SketchUp Pro 8, where primitive geometry is placed between measured points.  Each point is embedded with image data.  We take supplemental full format 35mm and HD video for reference in the 3D modeling process.  Our practical elevation limit is just over 12 feet.  ("Don't try this at home.")

Applications are high-availability spaces like atria, commercial shell and core, patient rooms, surgery suites, museums.  

Members please share your approaches; needs; what has worked, what hasn't; suggestions.   AIA TAP is wonderful.  We appreciate your interest in the topic. 


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