It goes without saying that tall buildings can pose a problem for architectural surveying – not just in conducting the survey itself, but first off in acquiring accurate, reliable documentation needed in order to record the survey. A lot of times this problem is “half solved” by relying on found documents from previous surveys or old drawings, even copies of original construction documents. I call it a “half solution” because while it solves some question, it often poses as many a it answers… Such as: “do these drawings really reflect the way the building stands today?”, or “did they really build it the way it was designed?”.
Of course, photogrammetry, laser surveying, and other new technologies can go a long way towards addressing these questions by providing excellent means to measure and draw complex surfaces from a distance. But tall buildings can still pose difficulties because you still need to get the camera or laser station in the right place in order to record relevant information. Sometimes this means renting an aerial lift of some sort, if available. Other times, we can get the camera/device into the right spot by using adjacent buildings for station points. And with photogrammetry we can also use long lenses to grab details from afar, which was the case when I surveyed the Westory Building in Washington DC. This project included ground shots, adjacent building shots, and long lens shots made possible by the fact that the building is located on the corner of a block.
The drawings and images shown here, then, were given to my client (Wiss Janey Elstner) who now are conducting a hands-on survey of this ornate terra cotta facade from swing stages. In this way, they are able to give their full attention to assessing and recording building conditions since they can trust that the drawings are both contemporary, accurate, and richly detailed.
Finally, below is a rectified photograph shot from the roof top of the building across the street. This, too was integrated into the set of measured drawings.