The digital reflection: Implications of three-dimensional laser scanning technology on historic architectural documentation

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2001-08

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How can laser scanning technology be used to document a historical structure in such a way that the duration of the process is reduced and made less labor intensive, with the quality of documentation being equal to, or better than that required by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), and that archival storage methods and accessibility to the public are enhanced? 3D Laser Scanning is a relatively new technique whereby pulses of light from a fixed source measure the exact co-ordinate position of points on a structure or object. This group or "cloud of points" accurately represents the object in three-dimensional virtual space. The application of 3D laser scanning technology to historic documentation in Texas Tech University was first examined in the measured drawing process of the JA Ranch, in Palo Duro Canyon, Texas. In this study, I described what eventuated and then analyzed a case study of this process with respect to time, labor, quality and image accessibility. This study had two steps. The first was to identify problems with the process that was followed, and the second was to suggest possible solutions in achieving an efficient procedure. The outcome of the case study analysis resulted in the delineation of an optimal course, which is replicable for a structure of comparable complexity.

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