Geo Week News

December 6, 2011

Mt. Rushmore, Pompeii, and the Bath and Tennis Club


I was always a big fan of that Sesame Street mini-game: One of these things is not like the other. Let’s play: Mount Rushmore. Hindu Temple Complex of the Khmer God Kings. Ancient Thebes. The Mayan Ruins. The Palm Beach Bath & Tennis Club.

Which of those don’t belong with the others? It’s a harder to answer question than you might imagine. Soon, all of them will have been documented by CyArk, actually. They’ve all been laser-scanned, or will be laser-scanned, for posterity. This much I learned when reading up on the recent award given to the Bath & Tennis Club in Palm Beach for its renovation work

I bet the parties here have been historic, anyway.

It seems the exclusive Palm Beach Club, after completing an ambitious four-year renovation project, realized the value of documenting what it already has. Because of its long-standing policy to not allow professional photographers to document the inside of the club (it’s that exclusive – the club guards closely its membership list), there were few ways for the club to know what the inside of the club originally looked like when they went about refurbishing it. 

Thus, “During the luncheon [to celebrate receiving Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach’s 2011 Ballinger Award], Ives announced that the foundation has commissioned San Diego-based CyArk, a nonprofit preservation group, to create an exceptionally detailed 3D digital model of the exterior of the clubhouse using advanced laser scanning and photography techniques. CyArk has already digitally ‘mapped’ landmarks such as Mount Rushmore and the ruins of Pompeii, Ives said, for preservation and archival purposes.”

So, what does this mean? Essentially, they’re creating an as-built document AFTER they’ve renovated the building. This proves that people see value in an accurate 3D documentation even if no work is planned. What kind of market is represented by historically significant buildings and organizations in your market area that may want to have their locations documented for posterity? It’s not just the buildings with plaques out front and tourists coming through that might want this treatment. What about old mansions in the area owned by long-standing families? What about famous movie houses and theaters that might have a promotions budget they could tap? 

Just because CyArk is a non-profit doesn’t mean there isn’t a profitable market in what they’re doing. It’s worth a look.

As for CyArk, you can’t blame them for taking the gig. Sure, there are historic sites around the world in more dire need, but this is PR at its simplest. Sometimes you have to go where a little initial effort might lead to a greater long-term reward. How many of those club members might represent future donors to work of more importance? How many of them will go back to their corporations and talk about the value and coolness of 3D documentation? It’s pretty much a no-brainer.

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