Before the tragedy seen all around the world, flames leaping from the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral, there was a smaller one, thousands of miles away in upstate New York.
Andrew Tallon, a pioneering architectural historian and father of four, died November 16, 2018 from brain cancer. He was 49. He had dedicated his life to the study of medieval architecture, its mysteries and resonances, blending in his interest in technology to create novel ways of studying centuries-old buildings.
“When you’re working on medieval buildings, it’s difficult to have the impression you can say anything new. They’ve been looked at and written about for ages,” Tallon told a documentary crew in 2015. “So, I’ve been using more sophisticated technology these days to try to get new answers from the buildings.”
And so it was that in 2010, Tallon, an art professor at Vassar, took a Leica ScanStation C10 to Notre Dame, and with the assistance of Columbia’s Paul Blaer, began to painstakingly scan every piece of the structure, inside and out. They mounted the Leica on a tripod, put up markers throughout the space, and set the machine to work. Over five days, they positioned the scanner again and again—50 times in all—to create an unmatched record of the reality of one of the world’s most awe-inspiring buildings, represented as a series of points in space. Tallon also took high-resolution panoramic photos to map onto the three-dimensional forms that the laser scanner could create.
“Andrew was relentless at scanning full buildings,” his colleague, MIT’s John Ochsendorf told me. “He would get on top of the vaults and under the roofs to capture the geometry.”
(A year before he died, Tallon posted a brief tour of the upper parts of the choir as a 3D video to YouTube, embedded below.)
Now, with the building having sustained untold but very substantial damage, the data that Tallon and Blaer created could be an invaluable aid to whoever is charged with rebuilding the structure. Ochsendorf described the data as “essential for capturing [the structure] as built geometry.” (He added, however, that the cathedral, no matter what happens now, “is irreplaceable, of course.”)
Tallon and Blaer’s laser data consists of 1 billion data points, structured as “point clouds,” which software can render into images of the three-dimensional space. Stitch them together, inside and out, map the photographs onto the precise 3D models, and you …read more
Source:: The Atlantic – Best of