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Historic Wisconsin Mansion Preserved with Virtual Reality

image of Historic Wisconsin Mansion Preserved with 3D Laser Scanning
Historic Wisconsin Mansion Preserved with 3D Laser Scanning

A historic Wisconsin mansion in Merrill that’s set to be demolished will be preserved, in a way, with detailed digital scans that will allow it to be recreated in virtual reality.

From an article on Wisconsin Public Radio website by Rob Mentzer.

The T.B. Scott Mansion was built in the late 19th century by a lumber baron and onetime state senator who was Merrill’s first mayor. When owner Ascension health system sought and received a demolition permit from Merrill last month, it led to a public outcry and some last-minute attempts to save it.

Those efforts appear to have come too late. But recently, two professors from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture visited the site and took a series of laser scans of the building aimed at preserving it digitally even after the physical building is gone.

The camera is about the size of a small speaker. It’s mounted on a tripod and slowly rotates to take in the full view. UW-Milwaukee professors William Krueger and Matt Jarosz spent a morning laser-scanning the building from all sides. Each view takes about 10 minutes to record, and the scans include a mind-boggling amount of information.

“This scanner takes a million points of data per second,” Krueger said.

All that data will be digitally assembled into a complex recreation of the building. It’s information that can be used for everything from an educational display in VR to detailed and precise physical recreation of the building’s stonework or other architectural elements.

“We can get an utterly accurate documentation of it, and that can be converted into a virtual reality understanding of the place,” Jarosz said. In VR, “You could freely walk around this (building) with our scanning product.”

“So for preservationists, at least, it’s a sense that it’s not completely gone,” Jarosz said.

Taking detailed architectural records from historic buildings used to be the work of days and weeks. Jarosz and his students would spend time on ladders, taking measurements and close-up photos. Even then, he said, there was a risk they had recorded something wrong, or would misread their own notes or otherwise introduce uncertainty into their data. The scan of the T.B. Scott Mansion took a few hours, was accomplished from the parking lot, and is as close to an objective digital representation of the building as technology now permits.

It’s a building that means a lot to many people in the Lincoln County city of about 9,000 people.

For the complete article on this historic Wisconsin  mansion CLICK HERE.

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