Laser scanned 3D image of Notre Dame; Andrew Tallon/Vassar College via National Geographic

Thanks to cutting-edge image technology, the daunting task of rebuilding a near 900 year old building will be possible. According to an article published last week in Futurism, “Thanks to the meticulous work of Vassar art historian Andrew Tallon, every exquisite detail and mysterious clue to the building’s 13th-century construction was recorded in a digital archive in 2015 using laser imaging. These records have revolutionized our understanding of how the spectacular building was built — and could provide a template for how Paris could rebuild.”

The article goes on to say, “In 2015, National Geographic profiled Tallon and his unique scanning process, highlighting his digital imaging of the Notre Dame Cathedral. For centuries, the only tools we had to measure medieval buildings and structures were primitive — strings and rulers, pencils and plumb bobs — but by turning to 21st-century technology, Tallon was able to tease out the secrets of this miraculous structure.”

For his scans of Notre Dame, Tallon recorded data from more than 50 locations in and around the cathedral, resulting in a staggering one billion points of data. Each scan begins by mounting the laser onto a tripod and placing in the center of the structure. The laser sweeps around the area in every direction, and as it hits a surface, the beam bounces back, recording the exact placement and surface of whatever buttress or column it landed on by measuring the time it took the beam to return. Every measurement is recorded as a colored dot, combining together into a detailed picture, like the color pixels of a digital photograph.

Laser scanning is helping building companies save time and money in the field. In an article published last year in Redshift, “The promise of field-accurate site conditions inside a 3D building information model is becoming a reality on construction sites and in early design discussions, thanks to better software import capabilities and newer, less-expensive field-scanning technologies.”

Image composite: Micke Tong; Redshift

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