On November 13, 1997, The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. held the grand opening of a new 175,000 square foot casino entertainment complex in Cherokee NC. At a cost of $82 million, the casino featured 50,000 square feet of gaming space on a 32 acre complex. In the years since, Harrah's Cherokee Casino has become North Carolina’s largest tourist attraction and has had an annual positive economic impact in excess of one-hundred million dollars for the Western North Carolina region.
In 2009 Harrah's announced a $633 million expansion of the casino designed to transform the complex to approximately 3 million square feet. The ambitious plans would expand the facility to over fifteen times its current size. In order to accomplish this feat, Harrah's acquired an additional 24 acres of property. Scheduled for completion in 2012, the 56-acre property will have added a third hotel tower incorporating luxury accommodations and high-end suites, a 3,000 seat event center, entertainment and VIP lounges, an 18,000 square foot spa, a variety of new restaurants and new retail outlets. Additionally, the casino floor will be enlarged to increase video and table gaming capacity to 195,000 square feet.
Turner Construction was retained as the prime contractor for the project. Given the existing facility was in operation around the clock, seven days a week, Turner was immediately presented with a logistics nightmare. Turner had to proceed with a massive renovation while being charged with having minimal impact to the ongoing operations of the facility. Turner engaged Coast 2 Coast to provide a 3D model of approximately 95,000 square feet of casino and certain back-of-house areas within the existing facility. This included specific emphasis on architectural, structural and MEP components above the ceiling. The resulting model would enable Turner’s staff to accurately locate the existing structure and MEP systems in order to be able to efficiently integrate the new systems, eliminate those systems no longer necessary, and formulate an overall construction schedule in the virtual world with as little customer impact as possible.
In June 2010 Coast 2 Coast deployed a two-man survey crew to the jobsite to work with members of the Turner Construction crew. Given the existing conditions, Coast 2 Coast chose to conduct the survey using the combination of a HDS 6000 laser scanner and a specialized total station. By choosing to use the 3D laser scanning approach over traditional survey methods, the overall time onsite was reduced by half, which met Turner’s goals of limiting disruption to the casino’s everyday operations. To further minimize the impact, Coast 2 Coast’s survey team worked overnight during the casino’s least busy hours.
The specialized total station in conjunction with proprietary software was used to survey the basic architectural perimeter of the facility and define a control network for the 3D laser scanner. To acquire the above-ceiling elements, the crew had to work from a fifteen foot motorized lift. The complexity of the survey was increased because the lift had to be maneuvered between the table games and slots on the casino floor, and that the movement was further restricted to narrow areas that were blocked off from customer access due to safety concerns. Due to the unstable nature of the lift, the crew had to manually acquire scan targets, which only further complicated data collection.
Working six nights a week, the Coast 2 Coast crew was able to complete the field portion of the survey in just three weeks. After registering the numerous point cloud scans, Coast 2 Coast’s in-house modeling staff was able to produce a finished AutoCAD 3D model in an additional three weeks. The resulting model included the basic architectural and structural features of the target space in addition to the MEP systems, which included all ductwork, air handling equipment, sprinkler lines, water and drain pipes, and conduit in addition to other elements within a tolerance of 1/8” of actual dimensions.