• CEDARVILLE Engineering Group, LLC

    3D Terrain Model Supports the City of Coatesville’s Brownfield Redevelopment Planning

    Coatesville, Pennsylvania, United States

Project Summary



CEDARVILLE Engineering Group (CEDARVILLE) was tasked to provide 3D design and conceptual planning services as part of the city of Coatesville’s “The Flats” brownfield redevelopment, a rugged, 30-acre former steel-mill site located 40 miles west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Encompassing foundations and hazardous materials remaining from the old industrial plant, the project required the team to work within a constrained footprint to address surveying restraints related to the area—which also included a floodplain, a creek, and active railroad tracks and highways requiring authorizations to enter. Given the difficult access to the site and level of analysis necessary, CEDARVILLE needed accurate, scalable software to capture a 3D model of existing site conditions.


The project team captured more than 750 aerial photos via a drone in a matter of 20 minutes, and using Bentley’s ContextCapture, incorporated base imagery from four perimeter ground-control points to build a precise reality model. The flexibility of ContextCapture enabled CEDARVILLE to combine old survey data and other photos to create the 3D model, eliminating the need for on-site visits altogether. Moreover, the model enabled accurate quantification of a significant amount of stockpiled clean fill, which is a staple for the redevelopment project.


Using Bentley’s reality modeling application to automatically produce a georeferenced 3D model reduced risk, enhanced decision making, and accelerated buy-in from local municipalities. ContextCapture provided a 3D terrain model that allowed city planners and project engineers to accurately calculate a stockpile hold of about 22,400 cubic yards of fill, which is enough to place two feet of fill over seven acres of the 26 acres within the city boundary. By leveraging reality-capture technology, CEDARVILLE extracted the finest details from the imagery obtained in a fraction of the time that would have been required for traditional surveying. The results demonstrated that the stockpiled material on the site exceeds required zoning provisions.


The photogrammetric reconstruction capabilities provided by Bentley's ContextCapture enabled CEDARVILLE to leverage information from a drone, a handheld camera, four perimeter ground-control points, existing survey data, and other photos. The software not only automated the reconstruction of the site model in just hours, but made it possible for the project team to document the state of “The Flats” and then present conceptual plans to show the kinds of reuse envisioned, which resulted in significant time savings for the city.

Project Playbook: ContextCapture

  • The 3D terrain model provided the necessary detail to help city planners and engineers accurately calculate a stockpile hold of about 22,400 cubic yards of fill.
  • Using Bentley’s ContextCapture, CEDARVILLE generated a high-resolution 3D reality model from site photographs and old survey data in just hours.
  • Bentley’s reality modeling software was instrumental in allowing local municipalities to visualize the state of “The Flats,” and the conceptual design plans for the brownfield redevelopment.
  • “There are parts of the property that are very difficult to access. [Bentley] technology makes it almost like having boots on the ground—without having boots on the ground.”

    Michael Trio City Manager The City of Coatesville