Thursday, August 30, 2012

Case Study: Reservoir 3 Restoration

Documenting the Existing Condition of Reservoir 3 in Jersey City, NJ
Laser Scanner Captures Historic Structures for Architectural Renovation

Constructed from 1871-1874, Jersey City’s Reservoir Number Three is important both for its historical structures and waterworks as well as for its status as the site of a burgeoning modern urban eco-system.

Reservoir 3 Background

Utilized as a source of potable water for both Jersey City and originally Ellis Island for over a hundred years, Reservoir 3 was shut down in the 1980s in favor of a newer facility. Drained in the 1990s, it began to fall into disrepair. Left alone for another ten years and the reservoir refilled naturally and plants and wildlife began to grow. By the early 2000s a mini eco-system containing many plant and animal species not common to such urban areas had evolved. The Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance was formed in 2002 to protect this rare urban environment from “destruction and misuse.”

Having saved the threatened Reservoir 3 from the destructive forces of decay and neglect, the Preservation Alliance had to fight a new threat. Local business and community groups, realizing the value of 14 “unused” acres pushed for the demolition of the Reservoir 3 and its subsequent redevelopment.

Thanks largely due to the perseverance and community organization of the Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance, February 16, 2007, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy declared that the Reservoir would be preserved as an “urban oasis.” Over the next two years a plan was created for a city park that would preserve both the historical structures from the original waterworks and the reservoir dependant eco-system in a way that the surrounding community could enjoy for years to come.
An Experienced Preservation Team

In 2009 Jersey City awarded John Milner Associates the contract for the creation of the public park. John Milner Associates is a D.C.-based historic preservation firm; they have facilitated extensive historical restoration and re-development in cities like Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston, and others.

John Milner Associates planned a three stage approach to the Reservoir 3 project. The first stage includes historical research about key components of the site’s history to help form a plan for the historical preservation. The second phase consists of a thorough examination of the existing state of Reservoir 3, including all of its land and structures. The final phase is the actual historical preservation and park construction.

Having worked with Direct Dimensions in the past, the team at John Milner Associates knew that there were certain documentation challenges that could be solved using 3D laser scanning technologies.

 The Reservoir 3 site contained three important structures: two large stone gate houses in a Romanesque style, and a tall brick screen house. The long term plan for the park is to repurpose the site and these structures for educational purposes by maintaining the original mechanical elements. To do this, John Milner Associates required an accurate dimensional plan of the as-built buildings in order to create the new development plans.

3D Scanning for Preservation

In November 2009, Direct Dimensions team members Glenn Woodburn and Dan Haga visited Reservoir 3 in Jersey City with a FARO LS Laser Scanner, a long-range spherical 3D scanner that can digitize vast open spaces with precision very quickly. Over the course of a single day, they performed 25 scans of the three buildings from different positions, each scan requiring about 10 minutes.

The scanner, mounted on a portable tripod similar to a camera, collected raw data in the form of a dense 3D ‘point cloud’ of millions of coordinates of the elements of each structure. In the end, these 3D laser images formed a high-definition survey of the three structures.

Upon returning to the Direct Dimensions facility in Owings Mills, the raw data scans were loaded into PolyWorks software and then coordinated and aligned together to form a single point cloud of each of the structures. After the scans were aligned in PolyWorks, they were brought into Rhino using the Pointools plug-in to create engineered geometry-based models.

From the 3D models, Direct Dimensions produced multiple 2D “as-built” architectural drawings from the laser scan data to accurately document each building’s exact measurements. These traditional architectural drawings provide the as-built blueprint for the designers and engineers at John Milner Associates to efficiently redevelop the space for educational purposes while maintaining the sites’ actual historical, structural elements


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

3D Scanning Monumental Sculpture

In the latest issue of LiDAR news Direct Dimensions President Michael Raphael told the story of how we helped the Walters Art Museum replicate sculptures.

But replication is just one of several uses for 3D scanning in the world of art, other uses include:

  • Digital Archiving of Monuments Art or Artifacts
  • Digital Restoration
  • Research and Analysis for Museums and Universities 
  • Measurement for Installation or Storage
Make sure to check out the below presentation to see how we used 3D scanning to help relocate the famous "Awakening" sculpture to its new home in the National Harbor.


Direct Dimensions in LiDAR News: 3D Imaging Provides Just the Touch for Museums

Direct Dimensions President Michael Raphael is a regular contributor to LiDAR News.

His most recent contribution tells the story of a very cool project we worked on where our team helped the Walters Art Museum create an exhibit where museum goers could actually touch the sculptures. From LiDAR News:

 There is no question that museums are expressing strong interest in the use of 3D.  Those of us that follow tech news feeds are seeing near daily examples of museums around the world using 3D scanning to document all kinds of collection items from prehistoric natural artifacts to man-made modern sculpture.

There is perhaps no better example of museum-based 3D scanning then my friends at The Smithsonian, becoming known affectionately as “the two laser cowboys”, Vince Rossi and Adam Metallo.  Well let’s face it, when The Smithsonian does it, it gets attention.

Here is a story about a project we participated in that went beyond just the scanning.  This project went full circle to the fabrication of accurate physical reproductions of the items using 3D printing – still a bit new to the museums, but growing fast.  For some reason, the idea of actually making copies of precious artifacts evokes fears of fraud and abuse, which to me is misguided relative to the tremendous benefits.

Read the rest of the story in the latest LiDAR News newsletter. 


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic Technology

The Olympics are well underway and we still can't get enough - particularly when it comes to interesting stories about how various Olympic Teams utilize 3D scanning technology. In fact, we have another story of our own to add to the list:

United States Luge Team - Virtual Aerodynamic Analysis

Luge is one of the most exciting sports of the winter Olympics. A typical luge run consists of a person (or team of two) on a small sled, at speeds that can exceed 95 miles an hour, going down a course that has an average drop of 30 stories. Most sports measure results by the tenth or hundredth of a second but the difference between a gold and silver is so close that luge is the only sliding sport measured to the single thousandth of a second. Due to the extreme measurement, shaving even a couple of milliseconds off a final time can lead to a major competitive advantage.

Preparing for the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, Direct Dimensions was approached by the United States Luge team with an exciting problem that could be solved in 3D. The USA Luge team was looking at some very high tech methods for testing their equipment and improving their times; one of the testing methods included virtual wind tunnel testing.

The team was interested in testing various design modifications to their sleds. Rather than making many expensive, actual modifications and putting each one through expensive physical wind tunnel and downhill testing, the team was planning on having a 3D model. With the 3D model the athletes would then be able to view, with virtual testing, where their sleds would need improvement in order to maximize their speed and lower drag.

Given this challenge, the USA Luge team contracted Direct Dimensions, a 3D services company with years of experience in creating similar 3D models for the aerospace and automotive industries. Their expertise in creating models for computation fluid dynamics analysis (CFD) combined with their additional experience scanning individuals for the arts and entertainment market, made Direct Dimensions uniquely suited to work on the team’s project. Over the course of a couple of days, members of the USA Luge team and their sleds were captured in 3D by DDI engineers at Direct Dimension’s facility.

The sleds themselves were captured using a laser line scanner mounted on a Faro Arm. This equipment captured the exact shape and contours to an accuracy of about a tenth of a millimeter. The athletes were then scanned in full gear and on their sleds using a Minolta Vivid 910 scanner.

With the raw 3D data gathered during scanning, Direct Dimensions engineers then created reverse engineered 3D CAD models of the sleds and their athletes. These models allowed the team to conduct computation fluid dynamics (CFD) with greater precision and accuracy given the exact human measurements of team members in relation to their sleds.

After the 2006 games a few members of the team returned to Direct Dimensions with their doubles sled for further scanning and modeling. The modifications created from these 3D models will hopefully enable the USA Luge team to continue increasing their speeds.