Pittsfield Probate Court (Athenaeum) Laser Scan
American Council of Engineering Companies New York (ACEC) Platinum Award for Pittsfield Probate Court (Athenaeum) Laser Scan in Pittsfield, MA.
The innovative use of laser scanning technology provided a unique and effective solution to a structural problem with an historic building in Western Massachusetts.
Constructed in 1876, the building was designed by renowned architect William A. Potter and originally purposed as an athenaeum. Today it is used primarily as a Courthouse for Berkshire County, MA.
The bluestone block veneer was bowed away from the vertical surface and cracks were observed in the mortar joints. Despite previous attempts in the 1960’s and 1970’s to reinforce the structure, it was clear that a comprehensive assessment of structural integrity was required.
The Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management hired Ford Gillen Architects to perform a Life Safety Study of the athenaeum. C. T. Male Associates (CTM) suggested the use of high definition laser scanning to measure and document any possible deformation.
The use of this technology provided a realistic and highly accurate mapping of the face of the athenaeum. The entire building was scanned and a number of structural deficiencies were revealed. Isometric views, a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) and Topographic Contour Map were prepared for the front building face.
The entire job was completed from the ground level in a matter of two days, with no scaffolding, minimizing worker safety risks and providing cost savings for the client. Laser scanning technology collects 50,000 points per second, spaced at 16 points per square inch. Nearly 19 million data points were collected over the entire structure. Prior to this technology, this level of detail could not have been attained. Gathering the best available data would have been costly, time consuming, and would have entailed significantly higher injury risks.
Based on the results of the laser scan, it was evident which areas were most severely deformed, as well as where the deformities originated and ended. This information was used to further study the areas behind the deformities to determine remedial actions.
C.T. Male’s thorough understanding of the complex software enabled us to conceive an adaptive and innovative use of the scan data. 3D images were rotated so that the front of the building was on the horizontal plane, allowing the surface to be used to create contours on the front of the building on one inch intervals.
The data was also used to help determine the structural integrity of the building and to assess the potential for falling blocks or possible building collapse. It was determined that the building was not in imminent danger of collapse and could still continue to be used in its current functional purpose.
The solution proposed requires the removal and reconstruction of the entire front face of the building. The laser scan data will allow for each individual block to be identified to ensure its original placement is maintained, aiding the client in restoring the building to the original Architect’s intent.