Virtual Design and Construction Speed Project Delivery of Virginia Innovation Center

Laser scanner-generated point cloud datasets were efficiently converted into segmented mesh models, which were seamlessly shared among project stakeholders for enhanced productivity.

Source: Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc.

The John Kerr Elementary School of Winchester, Virginia in the United States, will soon become the Shihadeh Innovation Center, a career and technical education center whose goal is to train local youth and adults to meet the demands of the regional job market. The Innovation Center project is a joint venture between Winchester Public Schools, Lord Fairfax Community College, and local industry partners. Charlottesville-based VMDO Architects has played the lead role in designing and rehabilitating this 46,400 sq ft building, construction on which began in 2019. The Center is expected to be operational by early 2021.

Snapshot Table

Application of BIM and Laser Scanning Technology to Speed Project Delivery

The main challenge

Laser Scanning is one of the major technologies being used in the construction phase of this project. It has helped capture 3D as-built data for use in scheduling and verification procedures. However, it also led to a challenging situation for the general contracting firm, as the point cloud datasets produced by laser scanning systems contained literally millions of individual data points. Though these point clouds provide exceptional amounts of information that helped ease the construction process, keeping up with the IT requirements for managing, processing and sharing of these huge datasets became an uphill and burdensome task. It became a big challenge for this particular project since it involved large multidisciplinary teams and had to abide by a tight schedule for completion. This set the stage for innovative and specialized Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) software solutions so that the contractors could deliver better as-built information contained in point clouds across all the other teams and stakeholders associated with the project.

The solution

The laser-scanned point-cloud data capturing the existing conditions resulted in a 9 GB file composed of 900 million data points and panoramic HDR images. Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc., the general contracting firm for the project, decided to use Pointfuse software, an intelligent point cloud software, to convert the entire point cloud dataset into a manageable, intelligent, classified mesh model that was just a fraction of the digital size of the original. Pointfuse enabled the work to be done  in less than a day, saving innumerable work hours as well as physical memory space required to store the initial huge datasets. Using Pointfuse, the point cloud data was converted into a vector cloud-based model that allowed the contractors to classify existing structural as well as mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems of the project. This process not only improved the usability of the data but also reduced the cloud size from 9GB to under 80 MB. This enabled the team to combine the as-built Pointfuse model with the design model and run clash detection, improving planning as well as operations and maintenance of the project.

Source: Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc.

Comparing the Pointfuse model with the original Revit model, containing highlighted areas where the as-built model deviated from the design, allowed the team from Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc., to immediately identify the additional structural concrete forms, changes in the size and spacing of the joists (impacting architectural treatments and finishes), along with changes in other services such as HVAC, MEP, and fire safety. The updated Pointfuse as-built model was then shared across the entire team via the Procore BIM viewer app on their mobile devices.

This 3D coordination model played a big role in bringing clarity throughout a project’s lifecycle, empowering specialists at the site to find further ways to capitalize on saving resources and capital, even while construction was in full swing. In general, these models are typically accessed using desktops of VDC personnel stationed at office. However, for this particular project, sharing as-built information outside of the VDC team enabled the mechanical contractor to identify a few specific adjustments. For example,  existing sprinkler mains could be modified and integrated with the new fire safety system, allowing for reuse of existing infrastructure. These adjustments proved to be economical in most cases, thus leading to considerable time as well as cost savings.


Harnessing the Artificial Intelligence (AI) of Pointfuse’s software enabled the project team to efficiently convert the data capture of the raw point cloud into an easy-to-share as-built model that classified building features, helped in detecting collisions, and improved workflow – all with small, portable files that can be up to 100 times smaller than the original point cloud. This seamless fusion of digital technologies brought transparency and empowerment throughout the project lifecycle, allowing the team to optimize scheduling and identify risks before they happened, resulting in an improvement of the workflow integration of the project and speeding project delivery.

Project Facts
Location Winchester, Virginia, USA
Client Winchester Public Schools
General Contractor Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc.
Architect VMDO Architects
Area 46,400 Square Feet
Year of Completion 2021
Digital Technologies Used BIM, Laser Scanning

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