Geo Week News

May 9, 2016

US National Mall Employs High-Tech Surveying for 21st-Century Preservation

A point cloud of the Lincoln Memorial colored by return intensity.

Press release highlights:

  • The US National Parks Service will perform restoration work on the Lincoln Memorial using 3D scan data captured by CyArk in 2013 for preservation purposes.
  • CyArk performed the scan work with partners DJS Associates
  • National Mall and Memorial Parks Chief of Partnerships Robin Nixon says that “this is really a triumph of the public-private partnership model.” 
  • The development of a building information model is in progress.

3D data captured in 2013 has found a new application as the National Park Service prepares the Lincoln Memorial for its next century of use. Following the announcement of a generous donation by philanthropist David Rubenstein in February, the National Park Service has announced that it will undertake important maintenance and preservation on the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial receives nearly eight million visitors annually, making it one of the most visited sites in the nation’s capital. Digital preservation work undertaken in 2013 by non-profit CyArk and engineering firm DJS Associates will provide a foundation for the 21st-century restoration. It will also serve as the basis for the work of architectural firm Quinn Evans, which has been tasked with creating a Building Information Model (BIM) of the monument’s current conditions.

“We are fortunate not to have to start from scratch in this effort,” said Mike Giller, Architectural Engineer and Project Manager for the forthcoming Lincoln project. “When we received word that the memorial would be getting a much-needed update, we immediately called up CyArk to get the data that was captured and archived three years prior.”

In December of 2013, CyArk collaborated with longtime partner DJS Associates, Inc. of Abington, Pa. to digitally preserve the Lincoln Memorial. They have been archiving and maintaining that data ever since.

“CyArk captures data with the intent of its being used to preserve sites physically and tell the stories of our most important heritage,” said CyArk Vice President Elizabeth Lee. “We are fortunate that our heritage is not in immediate danger as it is elsewhere in the world, but it nevertheless attracts daily attention. It is really gratifying to see the data put to its intended use so soon after its collection.”

CyArk and DJS had previously partnered to digitally preserve noteworthy architecture in the Mid Atlantic, “But nothing on the order of one of the country’s favorite presidents,” said Steve Schorr, principal partner at DJS Associates. “We knew the project would make a splash, and we were thrilled to put our expertise to such a worthwhile endeavor. We also scanned the Washington Monument and parts of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial—I hope they will get the love they deserve, too.”

The 2013 project was brought to fruition through the foresight of National Mall and Memorial Parks Chief of Partnerships Robin Nixon. “This is really a triumph of the public-private partnership model,” said Nixon. “When CyArk and DJS approached us about a project at one of the memorials, I knew just the one. It was never a matter of if we would need this information but when, so I am thrilled that we were able to scan the Lincoln Memorial when the opportunity arose. Their data is a really valuable asset to this project which will, in return, yield some valuable educational assets as well.”

CyArk has provided a copy of the 2013 data to the National Park Service and Quinn Evans Architects and development of a BIM model is in progress. A public-ready version of that model will be provided to CyArk upon completion and posted to the web, where visitors can experience the memorial virtually. 3D data opens a whole new world of possibilities for virtual access and public interpretation. From 3D models to virtual tours to educational apps or even immersive Virtual Reality environments, the options are only limited by our imagination. “It is always waiting for us,” said Lee of CyArk’s rich archive of global data, “to bring it to the light and share it with the public as we never before imagined. I hope this is only the start of the journey for the Lincoln Memorial data.”

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