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, July 20, 2012

Google and The Evolution of Modern Museums

"More museums are adding their floor plans to Google Maps for Android soon, including the SFMOMA, The Phillips Collection, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. If you’re interested in getting your museum’s floor plan included in Google Maps, visit the Google Maps Floor Plans tool.

Along with the Google Art Project, indoor mapping is one more way we’re working with museums to bring greater access to revered cultural and educational institutions around the world. Tap into the latest version of Google Maps for Android in Google Play
, and enjoy exploring the art and science of the great indoors...."
July 10, 2012...From the official Google blog

Google has developed an application for floor plans and indoor maps of numerous public facilities around the United States and abroad. Google's latest accomplishments include the interior mapping of airports, casinos and shopping centers around the world. This mapping project is the latest latest development in the evolution of modern museums and public facilities. Google currently has over 10,000 maps available for online users. Here is a partial list of the interior floor plans and maps available for online users:

United States

Smithsonian Art Museum

MGM Mandalay Bay
  • Caesars Entertainment - Bally's Las Vegas
  • Caesars Entertainment - Caesars Palace
  • Caesars Entertainment - Flamingo Las Vegas
  • Caesars Entertainment - Harrah's Las Vegas
  • Caesars Entertainment - Imperial Palace
  • Caesars Entertainment - Paris Las Vegas
  • Caesars Entertainment - Planet Hollywood
  • Caesars Entertainment - Rio Las Vegas
  • MGM Resorts - Aria Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts - Bellagio
  • MGM Resorts - Circus Circus Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts - Crystals Retail
  • MGM Resorts - Excalibur Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts - The Hotel at Mandalay Bay
  • MGM Resorts - Luxor Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts - Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
  • MGM Resorts - Mandalay Bay - Four Seasons
  • MGM Resorts - Mandarin Oriental
  • MGM Resorts - MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts - The Mirage Resort & Casino
  • MGM Resorts - Monte Carlo Resort & Casino
  • MGM Resorts - New York, New York Hotel & Casino
  • MGM Resorts - Signature
  • MGM Resorts - Vdara Hotel
  • Las Vegas Sands - The Venetian
Vallco Shopping Mall
Shopping Centers/ Public Buildings


Narita International Airport
National Museum of Emerging Science
and Innovation (Miraikan)

United Kingdom

Museum of London


Zurich Airport

Recently, a friend asked me if I felt discouraged by Google's aggressive pursuit of museum mapping and documentation. After all, Google is a technological giant with unlimited financial and human resources. Contrasted with NVentum's two man operation and very limited resources, it would be understandable for me/us to feel that the efforts to create our online museum have been seriously usurped.

However, Google's development of online maps for museums and public facilities serves as validation for our concepts of the new millennium museum. NVentum's vision of the modern museum differs from the Google projects in many ways. Google's apps allow access to museum floor plans and maps, but that is just one component of our project. Capturing History is a comprehensive documentation project that not only includes the development of online floor plans and maps, it is a tool for management and operation of facilities. Furthermore, NVentum's collaborative project with History San Jose provides facility operators/owners with new marketing and outreach tools, tools to develop new revenue streams, tools for the preservation artifacts, asset management and gaming applications.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Old School and The New School

Antique Surveyor

Antique Super Surveyor
Drafting Table

1870 Gurley Transit
Faro Laser Scanners

The Last Gurley Level- 1980
Faro Laser Tracker

Scorpion Handheld Laser Scanner
By Fast Scan

Classic Reality Capture Technology
Cloth Tape Measurer
Leica Smart Station
Leica Digital Camera

Rugby 55 Interior Laser

CST Berger Theodolite
Old Reliable

6" Bow Compass
Gurley Pocket Compass
w/Telescope- cir. 1900

Hearlihy ArchiBoard

Old School Jeep Schematic
The "New School"- Jeep Laser Scan

Laser Scanning for Forensic Analysis
Modern Home Design Techniques

Traditional Home  Design Techniques

Revit Software

Cyclone (Leica)

Python Software
Revit- BIM Software for Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing

Friday, June 29, 2012

2D Floor Plans in a 3D World

HP Pavilion
No matter how new or "modern" the venue, no matter the location or reputation of the facility, they all have one thing in common that remains unchanged and practically unquestioned by the public; the "Dreaded" 2D floor plan. Unquestioned even though it is something most people would agree is the most primitive of the acceptable practices that still exist in the operation of public assembly venues.
How many times have you planned to attend an event at a world class venue and decided to check their webpage to preview their seating chart only to find an indecipherable mess? It makes no difference what venue you choose; convention centers, theaters, arenas, auditoriums, churches, hotels, they all share the same problem; terrible 2D floor plans and seating charts.

HP Pavilion
Seating Chart
It may sound silly to complain about 2D diagrams and charts. After all, 2D floor plans have been the standard for communicating/documenting the physical and spatial information of buildings for centuries. Though this a fact, these types of seating charts have always been a source of frustration for me as both a facility manager and as a facility user. It's a given that choosing seats for an event or concert is anything but a science however with the cost of tickets, parking, food and "swag" at these events, the last thing you want is some unforeseen drama when you finally get to your seats. Arriving at your seats to find your view is partially obstructed or that the crowds from the concessions stands are backed-up to your seating area can completely ruin your night.
This is especially true for members of the disabled community. The adoption of ADA legislation of the early 1990's has provided for the inclusion of safe, accessible seating arrangements. However, many venues still lack a pre-designated seating area therefore arrangements, number of reserved seats and location may changed for each event and/or performance.

Shoreline Amphitheater

This has been a problem since people started using seating charts to plan and market events and performances. Years ago, I produced these seating charts on drafting boards; eventually, I graduated to AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT to enhance my craft. In other words, I'm not trying to "bash" the 2D environment that helped me put food on the family table.What I am saying is today's technology allows us to provide much more information to our clients, customers and guest, while allowing feedback and analyzing data that can help reduce operating cost for the building owner.

Shoreline Amphitheater is one of the great concert venues in the Western United States. As the picture shows, the venue is clean, the setting is spectacular and the seating arrangement provides clear unobstructed views. However, when clients/customers search the web for "Shoreline Amphitheater Seating Charts", what turns up doesn't quite tell the same story.
Shoreline Amphitheater Seating Chart

This problem certainly isn't tied to the HP Pavilion and Shoreline Amphitheater. As I said before, this is -and has been- the standard methodology for disseminating spatial information about public assembly venues since recorded time.

Today's Technology Upgrades For Public Assembly Venues
There is time for a change in the industry standards.
What if guest could visit the webpage for the Shoreline Amphitheater and enter a virtual model of the facility? The virtual model would allow the visitor to enter a 3D environment, walk to the seat of his/her choice, sit down and view the venue from the perspective of the guest in that seat? How could/would this affect the marketing and/or sales for a venue?  What if these online, virtual public facilities mimicked what was happening in the real world? Is this a gadget or a useful tool? 

For Attendees, Exhibitors,Guest and Show Managers:
49er's Santa Clara Stadium
Seating Chart
Could you imagine attending the SEMA Convention in Las Vegas via a 3D model of the facility? Anyone who couldn't afford to travel to the convention could still see and visit some of their favorite exhibitors and booths. What if exhibitors supplement the "live" attendance with the attendees from a virtual convention? Instead of 200,000 attendees, exhibitors could draw over 2,000,000 attendees; potential business/sales contacts. From a show management/exhibitor's perspective, the show can continue in the virtual world as long as you'd like; more exposure, more leads, more sales. Marketing and sales specialist have another tools for reaching the masses.     

I started thinking about this idea in 2000, after being introduced to laser scanning technology by Ken Hanna. At that time, there was still quite a few technological hurdles to be overcome but I was confident that within 5 years things would be far enough along to move forward with the idea. A couple of years ago, I came across a patent that was written by someone and dated in 2003. The patent request discusses the concept of online conventions, exhibits, sales, etc. As you may imagine, I was a bit disappointed to see that someone had already started the patent process however I recognize the opportunity at hand..

The possibilities are endless. It all starts with the creation and development of the 3D As-Built Model.

For Building Operators/Owners:
Why is this technology so important for public facility operators? 
There is a critical need for more information about how our buildings operate and how we can make them operate more efficiently. There is technology on the market that can and will revolutionize the way we collect, store and share information about public facilities. Owners can recognize savings through energy reduction and strategic maintenance plans; BIM technology is the key.

What if the virtual model of the Las Vegas Convention Center I described was actually a BIM? What if the building owner/operators could access, adjust and monitor the buildings environmental and security systems via the 3D model? What if access to the BIM could be made via a Smart Phone or other mobile device? What if the facility was able to monitor its' performance, make adjustments to maximize efficiency, anticipate maintenance problems, communicate with third party vendors to insure timely response to repair concerns?

The possibilities are endless. It all starts with the creation and development of the 3D As-Built Model.

This is not SciFi, this is today's BIM technology. For many people, BIM technology is SciFi. A major goal of the "Capturing History" project(s) is to help demonstrate the benefits of this technology. The development of the 3D model is just the beginning of what can be achieved with this technology; it is the foundation of NVentum's standard for BIM.

SJ Civic Auditorium Floor Plan
Even The Historic Civic Auditorium
Can't Elude the "notorious" 2D Floor Plan

Check out this scan of Wembley Stadium by Digital Surveys, U.K. This 3D model represents the future of online floor plans and seating charts for convention centers, theaters, arenas, stadiums, hotels, museums and all public assembly venues. Check out the attached video and think about the possibilities....

"Using a Scanstation2 3d laser scanner, Digital setup in the middle of the stadium and carried out a 360 degree scan over 3 hours."...from Digital Surveys webpage

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

3D Laser Scanning - Architectural

This is a beautiful example of a street scan in Gothenburg, Sweden using FARO Focus 3D laser Scanner and PointTools Software. This point cloud contains over 400 Million points.

Over the years, we have watched the progress of FARO through the expansion of their product line and applications. FARO's recent collaboration with Blach Construction's Mission Carmel documentation project led to NVentum's first conversation with FARO regarding our work with the San Jose History Park. As those of you who've read some of my previous blog post know, developing work flow is a significant component of the Capturing History Project. Finding the right equipment, with compatible, cost efficient software is critical to developing a process that makes economic sense for owners and operators to consider retrofitting and/or upgrading their buildings.
We're really looking forward to expanding our discussions with FARO and developing the processes that will enable museums to digitally document their capital facilities.
Stay tuned for updates about the equipment selected to complete our project....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Laser Scanning's Impact On Surveying

How Laser Scanning Has Revolutionized Surveying
Laser scanning provides more detailed and more accurate data than information obtained through manual measurements, incomplete or obsolete as-built drawings and/or maps.

The accuracy of models prepared using laser scanning technology translates directly into reduced project cost due to the reduction of construction reworks and delays. 3D models also facilitate cost reduction through the accurate development of prefabricated construction components and materials.

Prevents schedule delays by reducing time required to collect data from as-built structures 

Safer data collection- information can be obtained from the ground without the need for harnesses and other safety equipment. Data can be collected in areas that are too dangerous or unstable for people to safely work

Laser Scan of Plaza at SJ History Park
Nventum, LLC.
Eliminates costly return visits to project sites to verify measurements

Unobtrusive data collection technology reduces field construction time and facility down time.

Data captured by the laser scan can be translated in accurate 2D or 3D AutoCAD drawings to be used for 3D visual walk-throughs and 2D or 3D design. The data could ultimately be rendered into a complete 3D Building Information Model. 

How Laser Scanning Is Revolutionizing Museums and Public Venues
The 3D Model is the ideal database for storing and accessing information about the entire life-cycle of a facility. 

History San Jose
Building Information Modeling contains building geometry, spatial relationships, geographic information, quantities and properties of building components and materials.

Data contained in the BIM allows for real-time energy audits, acoustical simulations, maintenance and monitoring of air contaminants/pollutants and development and implementation of various RFI technologies and solutions.

The marriage of BIM and GIS technology will provide unique marketing/sales opportunities resulting in new revenue streams for facility owner/operators.

Historic Pasetta House
Laser Scan by Ken Hanna, NVentum LLC.
The concept of Virtual Museums is no longer confined to a collection of high definition photographs.

3D model is an excellent marketing tool; allowing a client, exhibitor, guest or visitor to see the facility without actually being there.

BIM is a useful tool in the reduction, monitoring and maintenance of a facility's carbon footprint.

BIM software applications allow building operators to monitor and adjust the building's electrical, environmental, mechanical and security systems remotely via SMART phones, tablets or laptops.

Read about America's Smithsonian's exploration of 3D laser scanning technology at

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Silicon Valley's BIM Leaders

Though Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been around for some time now, many contractors have yet to fully adopt the technology.  When BIM was still in its infancy, the high cost of equipment and training, plus the lack of demand were understandable reasons for contractors to be hesitant to buy into the technology. 
Today, the cost of equipment has come down significantly, there are new training programs available for professionals and the applications for the technology continue to expand.
The Silicon Valley is home to some of the finest construction firms in the world. These firms continue to raise the bar when it comes to BIM Projects, VD&C and sustainable construction. Here are a few of the Bay Areas top BIM/VD&C contractors:
"An early leader in BIM, Blach Construction employs a wide variety of modeling tools including ArchiCAD, Revit, NavisWorks, 3Ds Max Design and Google Sketch-up. Among other benefits, BIM enables the coordination of building systems designs and installation, analysis of building efficiency and life-cycle cost and serves as a powerful constructability and estimating tool"...from Blach Construction's webpage

"We build technology- Hathaway and Dinwiddie is a leader in the use of Building Information Modeling. We use BIM, a computer based, 3D modeling and visualization process in every phase of our project delivery life-cycle. In pre-construction, Hathaway and Dinwiddie is an innovator in advancing BIM capabilities that vastly improve the project estimating and planning processes. We add value in the coordination process through our use of 3D detailing and coordination in a virtual environment, addressing clashes and mitigating conflicts before breaking ground. As we integrate BIM into the construction site, we see increases in productivity and advancement in prefabrication that have profound impacts on cost, schedule and sustainability.
Through continued development of advance construction techniques, Hathaway and Dinwiddie remains California's builder of choice and an industry leader in BIM integration technology...from the Hathaway and Dinwiddie webpage

Adding Value Through Technology- Swinerton gains a tremendous amount of knowledge about the project by first building it virtually. Not only are unclear design intent issues and design errors discovered before construction but RFI and Submittal communications become more clear with the design team through the use of Virtual Design & Construction (VD&C) models.
Communications among the various building trades become more collaborative, risk is reduce for everyone and cost become more transparent. Schedules become more attainable as "what must be done, when" becomes clear to the whole construction team.
...Since that start of our VD&C initiative in 2007, Swinerton has applied VD&C technologies on 162 projects totaling 49.9 million square feet and a combined construction value of over $11 Billion."...from the Swinerton Incorporated webpage

"Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the process of constructing a 3D digital model in conjunction with or before embarking on a real-world construction project. BIM means building twice; first on the computer and then in the field. BIM has many new applications in the construction industry but its primary uses are as a means of visualization and a tool for trade coordination."...from Turner Construction webpage

"Walters and Wolf is well versed in Building Information Modeling (BIM). As an early Revit adopter (2002( and a registered member of the Autodesk Developer network, we have been producing 3D fabrication tickets and CNC programming for the last 10 years. The idea of a model-to-shop-floor solution is not possible with most current software so Walters and Wolf built proprietary programs to convert digital information from shop drawings to full 3D extrusions.
Walters and Wolf has the software and personnel to participate in the Building Information Models that are used to not only detect potential design conflicts but also build project schedules and product installation sequencing."...from the Walters and Wolf webpage.

Visit our online journal focusing on the historic and iconic architecture of Silicon Valley:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Academic Leadership and the Evolution of Construction

"Digitally preserving cultural heritage sites through collecting, archiving and providing open access to data created by laser scanning, digital modeling and other state-of-the-art technologies."...CyArk Mission Statement

Printing Office at San Jose History Park
Photo Courtesy of History San Jose
Historic Documentation
Low Resolution Laser Scan of Print Office at SJ History Park
Laser Scan by Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC
BIM Development
Laser Scan of Printing Office w/Photo Overlay
Laser Scan w/Texture Map by Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC.
Facility Documentation
Laser Scan by Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC.
(Low Resolution)

As-Built Construction Documentation
Low Resolution Scan of Printing Office
Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC.
Academic Leaders in Modern Construction
"The Center for Advance Spatial Technologies (CAST) is dedicated to research and applications in geospatial analysis and modeling, enterprise spatial databases, remote sensing, digital photogrammetry and geospatial interoperability and has been selected as a Center of Excellence by Intergraph Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Trimble Navigation LTD., Sun Microsystems, Skyline Software, Definiens Imaging Software, PCI Geomatics, Safe Software, IONIC Software and eSpatial Systems."...Mission Statement for Center for Advance Spatial Technologies at University of Arkansas.

"The CIFE mission is to be the world's premier academic research center for Virtual Design and Construction of Architecture-Engineering-Construction (AEC) industry support exceptionally reliable engineering and management practices to plan, design, construct and operate sustainable facilities."...Mission statement for the Center for Integrated Facility Engineering- CIFE at Stanford University

"a digital representation of physical and functional charateristics. A BIM is a shared knowledge resources for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition."...Penn State University's Computer Integrated Construction Resource Program
Notable University BIM/VDC Programs
Texas A&M- BIM at UTexas
 Massachusetts Institute of Technology-  Feniosky Pena-Mora Research Group
Penn State University- Computer Integrated Construction Research Program

Notable BIM Certificate Programs
University of San Diego Extension Program

Evergreen Valley College BIM/VDC Program

CAD Masters, Inc.- AutoDesk Authorized Training Centers

Autodesk University Online

New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies

The Construction Institute- (University of Hartford, CT.)
Turner University- Turner Construction