Laser Scanning is not a Luxury!


laser scan of a house that was damaged by a hurricane

Too often, mistakes occur because of assumptions or human errors.

Tocci uses Laser Scanning to avoid mistakes in restoration and adaptive use projects.

What is Laser Scanning?

The laser scan device is a few notches up from the tripod-mounted transits and theodolites we all know and love! The laser scanner registers every building element visible. Yes, everything, right down to the size of the period at the end of this sentence. The scan team will move the device to shoot the next location, and the next, and the next. We continue this process to create a 3D dimensional survey of the exact condition of this building. This becomes the basis for our existing conditions BIM, which serves the entire team.


Pier A is a historic building at the southern tip of Manhattan, shown above. Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) performed a laser scan of the existing building. Tocci used the model to coordinate new building systems within the existing structure. Without the laser-scan technology, hundreds (possibly thousands) of issues would have come up in the field, resulting in work stoppages. Although the process required more preconstruction analysis, it saved the BPCA in both schedule and change orders.


A few weeks ago, a  window supplier was explaining the expensive and frustrating process of field measuring every window on a renovation project – it is open to a lot of errors through the exhaustive repetition of field personnel.  Those pesky human errors have significant cost and schedule ramifications. If handled correctly, the laser scan can provide precise information, including spring points on arches and subtle muntins fluctuations. As more project teams use laser scanning, savvy CMs, and subcontractors will be able to pass on savings directly to owners.

Design Teams

Previous site documentation of antique structures necessitated multiple site visits by the architect’s team and each of the consultants. Each company examines and measures the structure for unique purposes, with no way to cross-verify or integrate each other’s information. This duplication of effort leads to errors, omissions, and misinterpretations – and in turn, bad design decisions. The laser scan removes all of this guesswork and centralizes the information for an intelligent and thorough review.

Building smarter starts with examining smarter and then designing smarter.