Utilizing Mobile Technology to Bring a Century-old School to Life

Transforming an ageing school building in the renowned Jazz District of Kansas City to a community arts centre required the utilization of the most up-to-date surveying technology.


The Attucks building, originally designed and built in 1905 has undergone several redevelopments over the years. When the time came for the complete refurbishment of the building, one Kansas-based survey firm opted for mobile mapping technology to get the job done.  

Challenges ahead

Developing and retrofitting old buildings can be full of challenges – records (if there are any) are often outdated and paper-based, and the condition of the building itself presents challenges. This was certainly the case with the Attucks school – floors and ceilings deteriorated to the point of collapse, decades of pigeon guano and the presence of asbestos all made for a hazardous survey environment.

It quickly became apparent to civil engineering and surveyors BHC Rhodes (contracted to survey and record the existing building), that a rapid and simple survey method was required to ensure personnel safety, and to keep time on site to a minimum – all without compromising on accuracy of data.

BHC Rhodes personnel knew they would need to enter the 3-storey building, navigate across the site safely, mount uneven surfaces, climb stairs and go where trolley-based scanners could not. Identified as a potentially dangerous environment, time was of the essence and it was important for the minimum number of individuals to scan quickly, accurately, and safely – without having to carry or manoeuvre heavy kit.

Embracing Mobile Technology

The firm chose to use the GeoSLAM ZEB-REVO, a handheld, lightweight, mobile mapping scanner using 3D Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) technology. Primarily for indoor mobile mapping, the ZEB-REVO is designed with multi-level environments in mind, allowing 3-dimensional loops using stairways, all without requiring GPS. As well as scan-to-BIM, ZEB-REVO data has a myriad of applications relevant to the AEC sector – including 2D plan layouts, section and elevations, and 3D visualizations.

With the aid of these lightweight, mobile scanners, the entire property was scanned in just 4.5 hours – a job which would have taken days if not weeks with static scanning equipment. The mobile nature of the scanners means no time-consuming set-ups, and therefore, no object occlusions. Another benefit is the minimal training required to get up and running. It’s a simple setup and data gathering is quick and easy; wherever you can walk, you can scan. This reduces training time for staff to a minimum – and also frees up the time of senior staff to work on other projects. 

The full picture

With the collected survey data, BHC Rhodes were able to produce a 3D BIM model of the asset in its current state. Often called a ‘digital twin’, BIM models provide a comprehensive overview of the existing asset as it stands. This allows all project stakeholders to plan and anticipate obstacles in the project redevelopment before site works even begin – reducing the incidence of build errors and unnecessary rework, and, ultimately, ensuring that projects can be delivered on time, and on budget.

In fact, such was the speed of data collection that BHC were able to supply the completed BIM model to the Jazz District Redevelopment Corporation (JDRC) two weeks earlier than originally anticipated. This complete set of 2D & 3D records supplied to the JDRC are an important step in the journey of bringing this historic local landmark building back into use.

Want to Learn More? 

If you want to find out more about GeoSLAM’s handheld, mobile mapping technology, visit www.geoslam.com. Or, visit us in person at SPAR 3D, 5-7th June 2018 in Anaheim, California.

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