Las Vegas, long known as America’s playground since the days of Sinatra, is also known for extraordinary architectural projects in casinos, hotels, and other commercial spaces. To keep up with the ever-changing cultural influences that inspire architectural design, casinos are often remodeled to deliver the best experiences for their guests.
Richard Youngblood, an architect and principal of Youngblood Architecture in Las Vegas, has specialized in casino building and remodeling for 35 years. He spends a lot of time in the field verifying conditions and re-working existing conditions. His recent gaming related projects have included numerous remodels at the Stratosphere Casino, Arizona Charlies and the Aquarius Casino Resort and his firm’s acquisition of the BLK3D handheld 3D imager and the efficiencies gained from it has changed his business’s game for good.
The BLK3D is designed to measure within and from pictures—technically known as photogrammetry—a method that surpasses traditional measuring in efficiency, speed, and accuracy. Youngblood’s five-person team is managing 27 active projects across the country, many of which are complicated. “Nothing’s simple in casinos. They are very fast-paced,” he says. “In a lot of cases, a casino has been remodeled numerous times. There are no as-built documents.”
To overcome this challenge, the BLK3D helps Youngblood to document as-built conditions quickly. The key to his continued success is the BLK3D’s photogrammetry capabilities, as well as its efficiency and accuracy. “The BLK3D has been a game changer,” Youngblood says. “It’s sped up my fieldwork quite a bit. I’ve become more accurate. I’ve got everything in one tool that I can use in the field and bring back to the office.”
Before using the BLK3D, Youngblood often used a DISTO and a pad and paper to manually measure as-built conditions in casinos prior to remodeling. Yet in Las Vegas, casinos are open 24/7 and there is no guarantee that any space at any time of day will be free of people or objects that can get in the way of manual measurements.
However, the photogrammetry function of the BLK3D has made taking those measurements a breeze, and the process is nearly as simple as point-and-shoot photography. “Casinos are always active. They’re never closed,” says Youngblood.
I’m always working among customers and security people and everyone else there. With the BLK3D I can get in, snap all the pictures I need, and get out so much quicker than I could have with a pad and paper. I found that I can do a lot of work alone versus having two or three other people.
Not only can Youngblood accomplish a great deal of precise measurement in a short time, but the BLK3D’s data sharing capabilities has increased efficiency and collaboration with his team. “I’ll typically send a file straight from the job site to the office and the team will get working on it right away.”
Once Youngblood is back at the office, the BLK3D then serves as his primary reference for measurements. He can check measurements captured by the BLK3D’s advanced onboard LDM—a laser distance meter that can measure up to 820 feet at mm accuracy—and through its stereoscopic photos to transfer them to CAD. “Unlike a regular laser distance meter, I keep the BLK3D right at my desktop because I refer to it constantly for a dimension that I missed with the 3D capture, and just for regular dimensions. It’s been great.”
Youngblood also adds how the BLK3D imager has increased his productivity in the office. “The best thing about the BLK3D is the photos and how I can to get into a space, snap some photos, then later go into the photos and pick up dimensions that I missed, or items that I intentionally skipped because I knew I could get it straight from the BLK3D.”
He can also export JPG files and PDF reports to share with clients to keep them updated on project progress and even to see the measurements within the photos. “I’ll export the PDF reports for multiple photographs, then come back to the office and make a portfolio of my photos with a report cover sheet. I’ll send that documentation to the client for things that are beyond what I’d do before for an as-built.” The collaborative process that the BLK3D encourages boosts his client’s engagement in the process and their satisfaction with the results.
Youngblood notes that for extensive and elaborate commercial projects like casinos, larger architecture firms are typically hired. Yet his firm is small, and his staff is always hands-on with their projects to best serve their clients, who are referrals or repeat customers because of the high quality of Youngblood’s deliverables. While his work has been well-respected in Las Vegas for decades, the BLK3D gives him even more of an advantage over larger firms.
“We need efficiency. We like having the best technology we can get,” says Youngblood. “And we found that the BLK3D’s technology gives us an edge to be small, to be hands-on, and to give our clients and our projects an experience that other architects can’t, which are usually larger firms.”
It isn’t just Youngblood that is noticing the BLK3D’s success in Vegas and elsewhere. Many contractors and construction managers have asked Youngblood about the BLK3D and he always recommends it.
I can see this working great for property management to document conditions, contractors, residential and commercial designers, and even realtors can use it to gain data about properties.