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6 min read

Case Study: 51 Madison

Aug 27, 2021 11:30:00 AM

The project at 51 Madison Avenue in New York City came to us via a trusted owner's representative. We had the honor of working on a one-of-a-kind, architectural icon. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert, it was the tallest building in the world when opened in 1929. It was created in a gothic revival style and achieved national landmark status in 1972. 

Why Did Our Clients Choose 3D Laser Scanning?

For these types of projects, our clients tend to demand 3D laser scanning. It is a safe technology that can help compute where a building's elements are located in 3D space. A single laser scan can capture millions of 3D data points each second, allowing you to see every part of a space in great detail.

51 Madison Exterior(Source)

Because of the building's age, it was evident that the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems needed a significant upgrade. The building owner enlisted the help of a New York-based consultancy, Gardiner & Theobald. In turn, they assembled a team of specialists and industry professionals qualified to work on the project.

The Initial Walk-Through

Our work at 51 Madison began when we were approached by Gardiner & Theobald, the building owner's primary consultant. The initiative kicked off with Brian Ely, Existing Conditions VP of Operations, and Kurt Yeghian, Existing ConditionsFounder & CEO of Existing Conditions. Prior to the start of the project, they met for an initial walk-through with Jessica Musco, the project manager, and Edward Pusateri, the director of Gardiner & Theobald. 

Working With The Owner’s Representatives

We have previously collaborated with them on projects such as 140 Broadway and The New York Stock Exchange. As a result, we have a fantastic working relationship with Jessica and Edward at Gardiner & Theobald. We enjoy working with the owners' representatives because they understand the type of work we do and the value of our services.

Gardiner & Theobald brought us in to provide documentation of 51 Madison. There were three levels beneath the entire footprint of the building: the basement, sub-basement, and sub-sub-basement. Each level had critical updates that were being planned, but lacked an accurate depiction of the existing conditions.

Gardiner & Theobald came to us to figure out what questions to ask us when putting together a bid to develop drawings for this enormous and essential structure. It was critical that they asked these questions so that we could assist them in defining and delivering their scope of work to their client, the building owner.

As a result, they received exactly what they needed. On a monthly basis, we met with the owner's representatives and engaged with the building owner's on-site team to help them identify their assets and liabilities. Because of our experience and reputation working on similar projects, we were also invited to assist in the creation of the RFP.

51 Madison Floor Plan

This project consisted of four levels underground with no exteriors. All exposed MEP and structural components, as well as standard architectural drawings, were modeled. This project included a lot of data, and we had to work hard to make sure it was all connected correctly.

We were testing the limits of the technology at the time to provide our clients with the finest possible outcome. This 51 Madison deliverable was used for a renovation project, as well as, a complete mechanical system replacement of the building's lower levels.

51 Madison Int Scan

Gardiner & Theobald required standard documentation with as much MEP documentation as possible. We collaborated with them after hours in order to document all of the information to make administration as seamless as possible. Our Operations Manager, Jesus Bravo, was in charge of the fieldwork on this project and did an outstanding job. We were able to collect all of that information by remaining as unobtrusive as possible while recording all of those systems in preparation for their renovation.

51 Madison Above Ceiling.

In an older facility like this, there are often MEP lines that have been fully abandoned and are taking up space. Gardiner & Theobald worked with their engineers to find out that detail and how to enhance their systems and refurbishment after receiving all of the data we provided.

Our Tools

Due to the need for accuracy and an MEP/FP upgrade, we chose to deploy the most advanced 3D laser scanners available at the time. This was a mix of Leica RTC-360 and BLK 360 terrestrial scanners. We were able to acquire stunning color, high-density 3D laser scan data. Providing our clients the most comprehensive information available by utilizing the most advanced equipment plays a huge role in our company.

The scanning process for this project took three weeks because it was done after hours and was highly labor-intensive.

Screen Shot 2021-06-14 at 9.54.56 AM

Our Expertise

The tools and software we utilize are all commercially available. But our clients understand that, in addition to deploying the industry's most cutting-edge laser scanning technology, we are also providing decades of experience and understanding. All of our key personnel have worked with architects or others in the construction sector. As a result, we are familiar with the language and, more importantly, what is important to provide the end-user.

Every year, we 3D laser scan and draw around 60,000,000 square feet of various structures.

Our Scanning Process

Over the years, our process of gathering, processing, modeling, and delivering our work has been virtually perfected and brought to a high degree of precision. This helps us know that the 3D laser scan data and drawings we provide are of outstanding quality and accuracy. To know what the existing conditions of your building are, you simply must have precise documentation.

The initial step in the procedure for the project at 51 Madison Avenue was to coordinate with building management. We are aware of the need for discretion in the workplace and the challenges of gaining access to inhabited locations. We devised a minimally obtrusive fieldwork strategy. As a result, the owner could run their business as normal while our team scanned their building.

The Leica RTC 360 was used to scan the building's basement sections. The tool is great for gathering high-quality data, and the speed with which we can collect it makes it the best option.

Our clients have grown accustomed to successful project delivery after two decades of negotiating access with building officials, accessing sensitive tenant areas, and collaborating with end-users of our work.

Accurate Drawings Are Key

If they had not engaged us, the owner's team would have potentially done what companies have done for decades. They would have employed old paper drawings discovered in a basement. Unfortunately, issues nearly always arise during the construction phase when this approach is taken. This is because those drawings are rarely correct and virtually never exact enough to complete the work required on these types of projects.

We began laser scanning over 12 years ago, and it has radically transformed the BIM industry. This technology is nothing short of extraordinary, and we've had the good fortune of witnessing how it's been leveraged to improve various structures.

51 Madison Section

When you have precise drawings and a vital point of departure, you can work based on facts and data rather than assumptions and guesswork. This eliminates the risk of making decisions without understanding the true state of your structure. It's critical to have an accurate set of drawings if you want to avoid costly change orders and other complications during the construction process.

Our Deliverable

The key deliverables were 3D laser scan data and a 3D BIM model. This enables our client to visualize the structure in 3D and 4D. We were able to complete this project on time and within budget. In addition, we spent time with our clients evaluating our results. We trained them how to examine, extract dimensions, and distribute the data to the proper individuals.

51 Madison Floors - Reflected Ceiling Plan - 3B

Follow on Collaboration

We always see our engagement with clients as a collaboration in which they may benefit from our knowledge and technology throughout the project's lifetime. We inform our clients that we are accessible to answer any questions they may have or provide any further information they may require to complete this project successfully. Risk mitigation is one of the core parts of our business.

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Jared Curtis

Written by Jared Curtis

President, Existing Conditions

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