The Reality Capture of Ellis Island

Chapter 2: Reality capture for rehabilitation and interpretation

Reality capture for rehabilitation and interpretation

The NPS has an on-going preservation project focused on rehabilitating and interpreting the hurricanedamaged hospital buildings and support structures that were once crucial to the daily operation of Ellis Island, yet had been closed for decades to the public during stabilisation efforts of these endangered structures. This multi-year effort, largely funded by Ellis Island (part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument) through its visitor and concession fees, is being carried out by the NPS’ Heritage Documentation Program (HDP), which is tasked by the NPS with creating guidelines and standards for the documentation of the United States' architectural, engineering and landscape heritage.

Historically these documents consisted of copyright-free permanent records, like architectural drawings, photographs and written histories. Today, these traditional archival materials are supplemented with laser scan point clouds, photogrammetric models and virtual tours derived from reality capture technologies. This digital data, according to Dana Lockett, architecture project manager for the HDP, is “extremely useful to the project sponsors and a public that thrives on virtual access.”

The NPS has been using Leica Geosystems’ laser scanning solutions for reality capture since 2006 as part of the HDP. The terrestrial laser scanning technology is incorporated extensively into the HDP’s workflows, and Ellis Island has seen the technology’s evolution, having been scanned with a Leica ScanStation II, ScanStation C10, and now the flagship ScanStation P40 over the course of this multi-year effort.

Additionally, by using the external camera kit for the ScanStation C10 and ScanStation P40 as part of its reality capture workflow at Ellis Island, the HDP has provided its first online virtual tour to the public. Composed of panoramic photography, embedded with hyperlinked point cloud animations, 3D meshes, and other interpretive multimedia, the tour creates an educational and immersive virtual experience of an otherwise restricted area of the National Monument.

“The evolution of this laser scanning technology has paralled the complexity of the structures surveyed at Ellis Island,” said Paul Davidson, Historic American Buildings Survey architect for the HDP. “As that complexity has increased, the Leica Geosystems scanners have risen to meet that challenge in speed, accuracy and efficiency.”

Explore next chapter: From field to office to archive

Story: The reality capture of Ellis Island
Chapter 1: Hurricane takes a hit on history
Chapter 2: Reality capture for rehabilitation and interpretation
Chapter 3: From field to office to archive

Reporter 75 - June 2016

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