Surveying Beyond Boundaries: A Collection of BIA Survey Team's Day-to-Day

“Surveying beyond boundaries” is the mantra of the Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors, the state-wide professional organization of individuals interested in the practice of land surveying. Recent projects undertaken by our survey department illustrate the truth of that phrase.


It was no surprise for passers-by to see ground-level survey crews from Barry Isett & Associates when construction began at 645 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA, the site of the 11-story Two City Center office building being built by North Star Construction Management, Inc. for Center City Investment Corporation.  During the first phase of construction, Isett surveyors conducted construction stake out surveys for site improvements, building foundations, micro piles and excavations for steel columns. They even located the optimal site for the huge construction crane.


Rising behind the Soliders and Sailors Monument, Two City Center is in the heart of Allentown’s downtown.But as the building rose, what were those surveyors doing up in the superstructure?  Surveyors’ talents are used to verify the vertical integrity of a building. During steel erection, Isett set centerlines for columns and confirmed that once set, the columns were plumb.  Chief Surveyor Tim Sheridan, PLS, and staff developed a stake out plan for the placement of each anchor bolt that connects the framework then conducted on-site surveys to indicate bolt location for the steel erector.  Survey control points are placed for the baseline of each floor; wall elevation plans are prepared.  As-built plans are created for each phase upon completion, plumbness is established for both the column framework and building’s exterior panels.  Surveys are used to affirm the location of interior elements like the stair tower and elevator tower.  Survey continued through the construction of the remaining upper floors. 


Long before the 2013 US Open came to the Merion Golf Club in June, Isett played a role in planning the event.  In September 2012 the United States Golf Association engaged BIA to conduct a topographic survey of sections of the course, including flood plain elevations for a 100-year storm, a prudent step considering the storms at the start of the tournament.  Isett’s survey was the basis for a site plan to locate a multitude of hospitality and sponsor tents as well as fences and crowd control devices.  The project was managed from our Phoenixville office under the direction of Robb Beers, PLS.



The ragged wall of 612 Hamilton Street can be seen just beyond Zion Reformed Lutheran Church.Another atypical survey project is in progress at 612 Hamilton Street.  Isett survey crews positioned on the street, the roof of historic Zion Reformed Lutheran Church, and Two City Center aimed their instruments at the west wall of the former Schoen’s Furniture Store which is being redeveloped by Charles Street Capital as a restaurant and offices. The exposed wall of the six-story brick structure is very uneven, with remnants of masonry panels clinging to large areas and sections of brick gouged out, reflecting  ghost images of a long-gone next-door building. While on a project tour of the downtown, Isett’s Bob Cox, PE, PLS, realized that the wall of the historic building would make façade reconstruction a challenge.  He suggested to Shane Patrick Associates, the project’s construction firm, that a topographic survey of the wall would be very useful to the architect.  The end product of the survey will be a 3-D model of the wall to create a basis for the design of wall panels. A three-dimensional model is also being created for the elevator shaft using data collected by a laser level with concurrent vertical and horizontal output.  Chief Surveyor Tim Sheridan, PLS, planned and managed the survey while Dawn Stasiw, a senior project technician in the survey department, is instrumental in developing the models. 


Our final story about the Isett survey department was reported in late June by The Express Times.  Surveyors Dan David and Brian Gougler were working on the campus of Lafayette College when a woman approached looking for help. She had spotted a newborn deer along College Drive and feared for its safety.  Dan and Brian moved the baby up the hill away from traffic in hopes it would be found by its mother.  If the mother didn’t turn up, Dan thought he would take the baby to his farm where his nieces and nephews could care for it until it was strong enough to return to the wild.  After completing their surveys, Dan and Brian went back to where they left the deer.  To their surprise there was a second newborn fawn and a crowd of college security guards and Easton police officers who had contacted the Pennsylvania Game Commission and were keeping an eye on the deer until a commission agent could arrive.  Content that their erstwhile charges would be well cared for, Dan and Brian returned to the office to finish up their workday.

Whether on the ground or high above the city streets, Isett surveyors demonstrate professionalism, creativity and, when circumstances dictate, compassion. Congratulations to a great team!