Virtual Design Analysis Group is a division of NVentum, LLC.

This unique collaborative endeavor; to utilize the latest reality capture technology to document the artifacts, buildings and campus of History San Jose, provides opportunities for private sector, non-profits and institutions of higher education to work together to solve some of today's most pressing engineering issues. The protocol for retrofitting as-built historic facilities and the use of new technologies to preserve our most prized historic treasures are vital to the continued success and expanded influence of our museums.
This blog will document the challenges and successes of this ambitious, one of a kind project.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Project

At first glance, the goal of this project is simple and straight forward; the gathering of sufficient data to create a 3D BIM model of History San Jose. However, a detailed analysis of the project reveals the complexities inherent in such an ambitious endeavor.
History San Jose is not your typical museum by any stretch of the imagination. The eclectic collection of artifacts, the size of the campus, the condition and nature of the various historic buildings make this a truly unique undertaking. Consider some of the more obvious challenges:

Photo Courtesy of History San Jose
-More than 2500 photographs, from early settlers to agriculture to nature scenes
-Santa Clara County records from 1849 to 1930
-Bicycle collections
-Agricultural tools: yokes, harnesses, plows, prune grader, tractors
-Architectural pieces: doors, fence posts, banisters, staircases, wood planks….
-Household items: stoves, refrigerators, ice boxes, sewing machines, washing machines…
-Furniture: beds frames, mirrors, dressers, cabinets, chairs, tables, desk, lamps…
-Vehicles: tractors, wagons, sleighs, trolleys….
-Antique adding machines, printing presses, switchboards, typewriters….
-Music: pianos, player pianos, phonographs
-Over 1000 local maps from 1847 to present
-Aerial photographs from the 1930s
Photo Courtesy of History San Jose
-Cemetery Records

Museum Buildings
There are 30 buildings in various conditions and stages of restoration located on the museum campus. Some buildings have been totally restored, are in excellent condition and open to the public. Other buildings have been partially restored and are a work in progress.  Still, other buildings are incomplete and missing part of the original structures. 
Laser Scan Of History SJ Printing Office- K.Hanna, NVentum llc. 20011

Photo Courtesy of History San Jose

The Campus

History San Jose Campus Circa 1975
Photo Courtesy of History San Jose
There are no detailed site maps of the History San Jose campus. As a result, records are in question and the need for an official topographical survey of the site is an essential component of the project's overall mission.
Campus Map Courtesy of History San Jose

Laser Scan of History SJ Plaza (SE), K.Hanna- NVentum llc.2011

The Opportunities
Our stated goal is the gathering of data for the development of a BIM Model of History San Jose. However, the objectives and milestones in route to that goal offer tremendous opportunities for education, innovation and workforce development.
One of the challenges NVentum continues to face is the lack of a knowledgeable and trained pool of individuals with an understanding of reality capture methodology. Of those who are fortunate enough to have found training opportunities, many haven’t had the practical experience to apply what they’ve learned to their field of endeavor.  This project provides ample opportunities for students to practice new skills and techniques that are essential in today’s job markets. Reality capture techniques and technology, topographical surveys, asset management, virtual design construction, facility retrofits, sustainable technology, point cloud registration, augmented reality are just some of the educational and training opportunities available for engineering students.
We are currently developing educational opportunities in conjunction with the engineering schools at Santa Clara University and San Jose State University.  Evergreen Valley College in San Jose has recently developed a BIM program with classes scheduled to begin this Fall. Students in the third semester of EVC’s BIM program will be able to take classroom theory and apply it to the History San Jose project under the supervision of professional staff.  The practical applications of these unique skills are critical to the development of our next generation of architects, curators, designers and engineers.

There is a major emphasis on sustainability for both new and as-built facilities. By comparison, designing and constructing sustainable buildings from the ground up as opposed to retrofitting as-built facilities is an easy proposition. The inherent challenges in as-built retrofits can be daunting to put it mildly. Let’s take an example of a historic building on the History San Jose campus; how do you retrofit a building that was built at the turn of the century, has no forensic data, no blueprints and has been updated several times over the past 100 years?  Challenges arise when the mix of technology and construction methods over the past 100 hundred years of maintenance, operations and building upgrades are all combined in one building. The lack of universal platforms and adaptable technology can create major obstacles to a preservation and/or restoration project. History San Jose provides an opportunity to address this challenge and others like it.
What is the true definition of sustainable retrofits when discussing as-built facilities? At what point does it become impractical to retrofit an older facility? When is forensic reality capture appropriate and/or necessary in the preservation process?
As you can see, this is not your typical project. The opportunities presented, the applied technology, the potential impact on the next generation of scholars and engineers  make this a truly unprecedented project and a model for future collaborative endeavors between the private sector, non-profit community and higher education.
Laser Scan w/Texture Map Image of History SJ Print Office-K.Hanna, NVentum llc. 2011

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