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FARO’s Laser Scanner Used to Help Rebuild L.A.’s Luxury Century Plaza Hotel

San Francisco-based general contractor, Webcor, invested in 3D laser scanning capabilities for the USD 2.5 billion redevelopment project of L.A.’s Century Plaza Hotel.

Courtesy: FARO Technologies

The landmark crescent-shaped Century Plaza Hotel in L.A.’s Century City was built in 1966 by Minoru Yamasaki (better known as the architect of the original World Trade Center in New York).  The hotel forms a sweeping crescent design fronting the Avenue of the Stars, adjacent to the twin Century Plaza Towers, with views extending all the way to the Pacific Ocean. For more than 50 years, the hotel has graciously hosted several presidents of the United States, including Ronald Regan and George Bush, and other A-list celebrities from around the world. The hotel was added to the list of National Trust for Historic Preservation’s historic properties in 2009, after which it was closed for a complete overhaul in 2016. The hotel opened again in 2020 and is now operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

Integrating Laser Scans with BIM for Design-Quality Control

The new and redeveloped Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel and Residences, designed by New York-based architects Pei Cobb Freed & Partners along with Gensler Architects and HED, has a total of 268 condominiums. The original 726-room hotel tower has been rebuilt with 400 mid-century guest rooms, 63 single condominiums, and two stories of branded residences. The renovated hotel also includes 95,000 square feet of high-end retailers and restaurants, and two acres of open space lush with gardens and standout water features. The 16-storied hotel will also be flanked by two 44-story ultra-luxe condo towers on each side. The hotel is being built by Webcor, a San Francisco based general contracting company.

Courtesy: WEBCOR

Structural challenges in reconstruction

Over the years, the Century Plaza Hotel’s structure had been falling apart; this required the entire building to be redesigned and rebuilt, with the notable exception of the lobby entrance ceiling and the elevator lobby ceilings.  One of the major design challenges faced by the architects was to first understand the design documentation of the construction model that had been done on paper in the 1960s. Another challenge facing them was redesigning the structure to retain the original interior design of the building.  Utmost care had to be taken as even a deviation of an inch or two would break the ADA (American Disabilities Act) regulations.

The use of 3D laser scanner as part of a two-pronged strategy

Webcor came up with a two-pronged strategy to do a detailed documentation of the existing condition of the building.  The first strategy was to engage a team of surveyors to scan the hotel’s support columns on the gutted floors. The second strategy was to develop its own capabilities for scanning. Webcor invested in FARO’s 3D laser scanner to document the building design.  The particular scanner was chosen because it was found to be most appropriate for building construction. The FARO 3D laser scanner had the ability to perform not just long-range scans but also those of enclosed structures with short sight lines. Webcor conducted a couple of scans, and after being satisfied with the results, decided to go ahead with the FARO 3D laser scanners for the entirety of the project.

Courtesy: FARO Technologies

Choosing 3D laser scanner over human surveyors

By implementing the two-pronged strategy, Webcor was able to identify the discrepancies in the two strategies – the use of 3D laser scanners and the use of human surveyors. The sample scans captured via FARO technology matched the scans captured by the surveyor’s team.  However, the column locations of the scans performed by the surveyors, relative to the project grid, were off. This discrepancy was an eye-opener for the engineers at Webcor; it helped them realize the importance of laser scanners on the project site. The team also discovered another anomaly on the west side of the building’s radial design; the scan revealed that the actual building was three inches wider than the original design drawings, which caught everybody by surprise. The team hand-measured that section, which verified that FARO’s 3D laser scanner’s point-cloud data was spot on.

Project Facts

Location

Los Angeles, California

Client

Woodridge Capital LLC

Area

1.9 Million Square Feet

Architects

Pei Cobb Freed, Gensler Architects, HED

General Contractor

Webcor

LEED Certification

Silver

Integration of laser scans with BIM

To help ensure the quality of the design is maintained and the construction happens as per the designed models, Webcor’s structural engineer produced a Revit™ as-built model (BIM) based on the 1960s-era documentation. Webcor’s engineering team overlaid the registered point cloud data collected from FARO’s 3D laser scanners on the Revit™ as-built model to identify potential issues and resolve them in a collaborative environment. Satisfied with the accuracy of the Revit™ as-built model, the team safely distributed different sections of the work to the broader construction team with the confidence that everyone was working on a single source of truth. The team was able to integrate their scanned data into the BIM models, enabling coordination in a common data environment (CDE) to check for design conflicts. It also enabled them to check out floor flatness and elevations level-to-level. The team was also able to generate floor heat maps with elevation points, much needed owing to the age of the structure.

Courtesy: FARO Technologies

The team also purchased the ‘Rithm Inspector Plug-In’ to measure the floor flatness and level. The BIM model helped Webcor closely monitor slab pours across 88 new levels of combined tower construction.

Laser scanning benefits

The team at Webcor was extremely satisfied with the value demonstrated by adopting FARO’s 3D laser scanner. The use of Faro’s 3D laser scanner in the reconstruction of the Century Plaza Hotel helped Webcor save substantial costs in the design and construction phases of the project. Also, the use of the laser scanner saved Webcor time in rework as using the laser scans, error detection was precise and the anomalies in design measurements were noticed in time. Following the identification of these benefits, the Webcor team decided to integrate laser scanners in the workflow of all its upcoming projects. This particular project received LEED Silver® rating for using laser scans and BIM technology.

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