How is this historic institution on the cutting edge of the building industry? They recognize the value of the technology we employ and the services we provide.
Our work at Williams College is one of Existing Conditions' largest projects to date. This collaboration with one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the United States began in 2015. We worked with Joe Chadwick of Christopher Williams Architects and Shaun Garvey, the College's project manager, on Goodrich Hall. This modest project was our very first introduction to Williams College. As a result of that project’s success, we were asked to return to provide documentation of other buildings on campus.
In September 2015, we started working on our second project at Williams College, 21 Morley Circle. In order to construct the Jenness House, they needed us to laser-scan the exterior of the exposed foundation to determine its exact geometry.
A few years later, when the College needed additional existing condition documentation, they knew exactly who to call. Our work on Williams Hall and Prospect House was completed in July 2018. Later that same year, we delivered the Chandler and Chadbourne House projects. Eventually, these projects led to a campus accessibility study.
First Project: Goodrich Hall
In 2019, Williams College reached out to Centerline Architects to create an Accessibility Study for their entire campus but quickly realized that it was going to be much more expensive than they anticipated to have an architecture firm create the existing documentation. They then turned to Existing Conditions which could provide the documentation faster, collect more information, and at a much lower cost. This also empowered Centerline Architects to focus on what they do best.
In January 2020, we began documenting the remaining buildings on campus. This large project (well over a hundred buildings and over four million square feet) would provide the College with a comprehensive set of 3D as-builts and parametric data to track their campus’ accessibility.
We shared this detailed information with their facilities department, who immediately recognized the value of the technology. They observed the accuracy of our models and how they would fit into their master planning efforts. Each model was easily accessible on a server, and the databases built into the BIM models could be exported into their existing database management system. This simplified the facilities department’s work, saving them time and money.
Accessibility Study: Griffin Hall
Measuring the Entire Campus
Our site operations were delayed with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the summer and fall semesters of 2020, when all students were required to leave campus, the facilities were virtually empty. From May through December 2020, our Operations Manager Holly Vaillancourt made sure we had multiple personnel scanning the site at all times. She coordinated all of their travel arrangements and efforts with Keenan Chenail from Williams College’s Office of Planning, Design, and Construction. Only with Existing Conditions’ experience, expertise, and state-of-the-art laser-scanning equipment could this have been accomplished.
The first priority was to scan the classrooms and dormitories before students returned to school. While scanning continued, we began processing the data and building the models of scanned buildings. Working closely with Keenan and the team at Williams to determine our priorities for delivery, we were able to supply Williams College with a steady flow of information.
In the spring of 2021, we returned to campus to begin the second phase by scanning the remaining undocumented areas. All scans, interior, and exterior were done in color. Although color scanning is slower, it has enabled Williams College to create virtual walkthroughs while still benefiting from accurate architectural models of each building.
Keeping Documents Up-to-Date
When we initially began our project with Williams College, the Wachenheim Science Center was under construction. In 2022, we returned to scan this building so the as-builts would be up-to-date. We return to the campus every six months to scan any projects that need updated documentation, as well as any capital improvement projects.
Wachenheim Science Center
Fun Facts About Color Scans
A color scan takes approximately three times as long as a regular grayscale scan. After the first scan completes taking its measurements, the scanner then performs a second rotation and captures dozens of images. Those images are then laid over the points to colorize the points. Sufficient lighting is required to capture this color data, whereas grayscale scanning can be done in complete darkness, so long as it is safe for the crew to access.
Drone imagery is increasingly requested of us as our clients gain a greater understanding of its value. Many drone images of the campus were captured during our site work at Williams College. Sometimes we use the drone to capture imagery of roof structures that we cannot see with our usual scanning approach from the ground. This gives our clients and our modeling team a greater understanding of the site conditions on the roof. In other situations, a drone survey of a large campus like Williams College can help provide an overall map of building positions and relative distances. Lastly, drones can provide an opportunity to get higher-detail images and information on the upper cornices of buildings that could not be accessed otherwise.
Thompson Chapel: Visual Drone Media
Williams College can use our plans for renovations, continuous facility management, and accessibility studies of all its buildings. Their faculty and staff now have total situational awareness across the entire campus. The project’s careful planning, organization, and execution continue to be a collaborative endeavor.
How This Project Was Unique
After seeing the power of what we were able to provide for them in a single building, Williams College requested documentation of their entire campus of over four million square feet. We pride ourselves on how the partnership has developed throughout the scope of the project.
Working With Williams College
Williams College’s staff was fantastic to collaborate with since they recognized the importance of our efforts and what we were providing them. They came up with a variety of uses for our work that went beyond what we had initially planned when we began the endeavor. The successful execution of a project of this size, with all the challenges involved, demonstrates the talent of their personnel and organization. Williams College has been around for 225 years and has produced many brilliant minds. We’re extraordinarily proud to know that our drawings will be put to use for decades to come, helping to foster future generations of success at Williams.
Why Work With Us?
One of the reasons our clients appreciate working with us is that we are easy to do business with. Our clients know that they can reach out to us at any time and that we will be a reliable partner for them. We consider ourselves to be an extension of their team, bringing unmatched experience and expertise so they can focus on what they do best.