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Preserving The Legacy with 3D Laser Scanning

photo of preserving the legacy

Oregon State University researchers are preserving the legacy of Silver Falls State Park by using three-dimensional scanning to produce digital replicas of the park’s historical structures.

The work is especially timely given the increasing frequency of wildfires in Oregon and throughout the West, with fires destroying similar historical structures at Jawbone Flats in the Opal Creek Wilderness and at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon in 2020.

“Having a digital record of these buildings is essential, as that may be the only record we have,” said Todd Kesterson, senior instructor in OSU’s New Media Communications program and project director for the 3D scanning work. “If something is damaged or lost, that record can be used for repair or restoration.”

He pointed to the example of Notre Dame in Paris, which suffered significant loss in a fire in 2019. An art historian had conducted 3D scanning of the building in 2015, providing a perfect blueprint for the iconic cathedral to be rebuilt to an accuracy of within 5 millimeters.

For the Silver Falls project, Kesterson teamed up with Michael Olsen and Ezra Che in OSU’s College of Engineering. The project was paid for with a $14,163 grant from the Oregon Heritage State Historic Preservation Office.

The work involves two types of technology: photogrammetry and laser scanning. Photogrammetry uses a camera to take successive images of a structure, and then uses structure-from-motion software to stitch those photos together to build a three-dimensional digital replica. Laser scanning uses lidar (light detection and ranging) technology to record millions of points per second, measuring and mapping the exact shape and location of a structure at a high resolution.

The team selected three of the most well-known structures at the park: the South Falls Lodge, the South Falls Nature Store and the Stone Kitchen Shelter. They were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of the New Deal, and most park visitors walk past them en route to the falls.

Olsen, Che and a group of graduate students set up laser scanners on tripods at various sites around and inside each building, capturing three-dimensional panoramas from different angles as the scanner rotated 360 degrees. They also sent a large drone 300 feet into the sky to take aerial photos.

For the complete article on preserving the legacy of Silver Falls CLICK HERE.

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