Use Case: Architecture

I’m an architect. How can I use Canvas?

Great to hear! Architects make up a large chunk of our customer base, and we’ve seen Canvas power tons of interesting projects in this vertical. 

As an architect’s role tends to be so different from project to project, we tend to see pretty varied uses of Canvas in the field. Here are the most common ones we see:

  1. Capturing existing conditions to plan, price, or design a specific renovation, new home addition, or other large change.

  1. Capturing existing conditions to start playing with ideas for what can be done to a property.

  1. Documenting the existing conditions to evaluate a property’s suitability for a particular goal or project

  1. Documenting the existing conditions to evaluate a property’s compliance with certain laws or building codes.

  1. Documenting the existing conditions to ascertain the risk of certain problems like earthquake damage.

Generally, the major value is that Canvas allows you to create a 3D model of a property faster and easier than ever before — without the cost and time of a full-scale survey. With Autodesk Revit supported as a native output for Scan To CAD (targeted at a LOD 200 specification), many customers use Canvas as part of a complete, end-to-end BIM workflow, making BIM (and 3D scanning) more accessible than ever before. 


Across the case studies we’ve run with customers out in the field, we see that most measurements fall within 1-2% of what is verified manually with a tape measure, laser range-finder, or existing blueprint. This makes Canvas a slam dunk for many of the cases above, but as a project moves into construction or installation, there are many measurements that demand tighter tolerances.

We have typically seen this addressed in a few different ways:

  1. Use the Canvas-generated model through the design, pricing, and planning, and then update the model as more precise measurements are demanded for certain kinds of jobs (like ordering cabinets).

  1. Supplement the Canvas scan with manual measurements for specific dimensions taken at the same time. You can then adjust the CAD model you receive back from Scan To CAD to match your critical dimensions exactly.

  1. Use the Canvas-generated model through the early phases of design, pricing, and planning, and then do a traditional as-built later.

We generally find #1 and #2 are much more efficient, but we do talk to some customers for whom #3 is preferred for one reason or another. #3 tends to be more common when there are multiple parties working on a project, and no one trusts each other’s measurements no matter what method is used!

The PX-80

Recently, Occipital announced the acquisition of Paracosm — makers of the PX-80, a mobile LiDAR system for large-scale 3D mapping. Where Canvas is purpose-built for residential home improvement, the PX-80 is capable of handling much larger spaces like construction sites, museums, or even entire city blocks.

As part of Occipital’s acquisition, we are integrating Canvas’s Scan To CAD pipeline into the PX-80 as well:

The PX-80 is a higher-end solution, but if you’re an architect working on larger-scale projects, it may be a good fit to supercharge your process.

Toolchains / BIM

Most architects we have worked with use AutoCAD, SketchUp, Revit, or a combination of all three for different parts of the project. All three programs are supported, but you can learn more here: What file formats and programs does Scan To CAD export?

Many architects ask if Canvas supports BIM, or "Scan To BIM" workflows, and the answer is yes! When you choose Revit as your output format from Scan To CAD, you will receive a .rvt file targeted at a LOD 200 specification, and you will be able to take advantage of Revit's many benefits as BIM software, such as using the same model to generate construction documentation. 

We always recommend downloading our sample data here to determine for yourself how easy it is to bring Canvas-generated 3D models into your tool of choice.

Further Reading

As an architect, you may also be interested in checking out:

  1. IvyMark Webinar: Using Canvas to Create 3D Visualizations For Your Design Clients
  2. Interview with SketchUp: 3D Home Scanning For Everyone
  3. What kind of accuracy can I expect from Canvas?
  4. What device should I use with Canvas?
  5. Watch Canvas in action on "Ask This Old House":
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