Project Profile: Rockefeller Building
Altitude: Over 200’ AGL
Floors – 16 plus parapets and penthouses
Elevations: 17 elevations or sides
Location: Downtown Cleveland, Ohio
Difficult Challenges: Poor GPS signals, cold temperatures, winds at ground level and aloft, short timeline
We were contacted by an architect we had worked with previously to help him develop a building envelope renovation plan for the historic Rockefeller Building in downtown Cleveland. The city of Cleveland had enacted a Building Envelope Ordinance in 2016 to address deteriorating buildings over 6 stories and 50 years old, that posed a threat to public safety from deteriorating exteriors.
This building was facing a deadline in just a few weeks and the owners could face huge fines if not in compliance. January in Cleveland is not an ideal time for inspection of tall structures but our UAS based camera platforms represented their only chance of meeting the looming deadline. Conventions inspection methods would pose a significant safety danger to workers, be very intrusive by blocking sidewalks and streets for weeks in addition to being very expensive to perform.
The building structure was very complex with 17 different elevations, including narrow passageways and insets. But all the building surfaces required thorough inspection and documentation so we sprung into action on a cold, brisk and windy Saturday morning. This inspection required over 100 pictures per floor to get the pics and data that were needed. The cold and constant wind really cut down the battery life on our aircraft and GPS signals were sketchy at best. This resulted in some of the most technically challenging flying we have ever encountered.
But Aerial Visions owns an extensive fleet of intelligent and sophisticated drones including multiple craft of the same models, allowing us the benefit of rotating fresh units with charged batteries to fight the wind and cold. The mission was very challenging but we were able to take high resolution pics of every square foot of the building envelope over two full days of flight time.
After some editing and color correction we presented the architect with over 1600 high resolution pics that clearly brought attention to all the building envelope defects on this historic and iconic fixture to downtown Cleveland. The resolution is so high in these pics they can be enlarged on the computer screen allowing even closer inspection of the defects without losing detail. The architectural firm developed a comprehensive renovation plan and submitted it to the Cleveland building department within the specified deadline, thus avoiding huge fines for non-compliance.
This mission was completed at a fraction of the cost of conventional inspection methods, and without blocking roads or busy sidewalks. But most important no workers were put in danger from operating at extreme heights in wind and cold to get this work done. Much faster, many times cheaper, yet eliminating safety dangers from falls yet providing a better result and product to the customer. There is no question UAS based camera platforms are the future of tall structure inspection…and Aerial Visions is the leader in this type of highly specialized service having completed hundreds of industrial, commercial and urban environment missions over the past few years.