The Role 3D Laser Scanning Plays In Historic Preservation

3D laser scanning technology has made it much easier to evaluate, compare and repair historical structures and historical landmarks. 3D laser scanners allow surveyors to create functional 3D models using millions of points of data coupled with point cloud technology making the completion of historical preservation projects more attainable. The increasingly large amounts of data produced by 3D laser scanners are opening up the world of 3D laser scanning for historic preservation

According to Michael Rogers, a professor at Ithaca College who specializes in laser scanning and preservation, 3D laser scanning “data opens up numerous possibilities including…”

  • Pre-emptive repairs
  • Repairs in response to natural disasters
  • Virtual tours of famous buildings and historical landmarks
  • 3D-printed replacements of design features
  • Complete and total restoration

Rogers reiterated that, “this data is perfect for visualization and telling the stories of these [historic preservation] sites. You can share the power of these sites with the same data you’re using to manage, preserve and restore them.”

Historical Preservation Projects From Philadelphia to Seattle 

For the last few years, Datum Tech Solutions has seen a rise in the number of historical preservation projects taking place across the United States. From Seattle’s globally recognized Pike Place Market to The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, communities are turning to 3D laser scanners as a means to protect and preserve historical buildings and landmarks in their neighborhoods. 

Before we jump into highlighting recent projects, let’s outline some of the many benefits of 3D laser scanning when it comes to historic preservation. 


  • Replicate structural details with precision and accuracy
  • Removes bias from preservation decisions
  • Evaluate buildings without fear of destruction or deterioration
  • Locate buried or hidden objects/structural elements (Infrared thermography)
  • Pinpoint structural defects, materials and voids
  • Blueprints for recreation 
  • Speedy and efficient continual monitoring 
  • Produce AR/VR experiences 

DeLaurenti Food & Wine at Pike Place Market | Seattle, WA

When Heliotrope Architects was hired by DeLaurenti Food & Wine to breathe new life into what once was the Pike Place Market newsstand, the team of local Architects and Designers knew they were embarking on a very special historic preservation project. DeLaurenti sits adjacent to the newsstand that closed its doors at the end of 2019. DeLaurenti owner Matt Snyder and manager Nate Plutko are keen on preserving the history of the landmark and turned to Heliotrope and Datum Tech Solutions to ensure that visitors and locals alike will be able to enjoy the space that they’ve come to know and love for years to come. 

One of the most critical components of this project was presenting the project scope and final product to the Pike Place Market Historical Commission. The commission is responsible for setting design standards, reviewing applications for changes to properties within the historic district and approving changes to business use (among many other responsibilities). 

3D laser scanning technology allowed Heliotrope Architects to present the project scope and final product to the commission for approval. Its rich history and its symbolism as a Pacific Northwest treasure are two of many reasons why 3D laser scanning technology is an important aspect of this project.

The point cloud produced by Datum Tech Solutions will assist Heliotrope architects and designers in creating a perfectly scaled 3D rendering of what the area will look like once it’s completed. In addition, all parties involved will have the ability and option of keeping a digital twin of the original space on record to pull out when and if they need it.



The Academy of Music | Philadelphia, PA

When Structural Technologies was hired by The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, PA they knew the task at hand was first and foremost about preserving the infrastructure of a National Historic Landmark. There was no room for error. The Academy of Music is home to the oldest operating opera house in the United States and has brought Philadelphia’s art community together for over 160 years. It is undoubtedly a sacred and storied establishment worth preserving. 

The exterior facade of the opera house was in great need of restorative services and Structural Technologies knew that obtaining detailed and accurate 3D laser scans of the building’s exterior in addition to 2D sheets demonstrating the balconie’s dimensions would be instrumental in repairing and refurbishing the facade of the delicate structure. For The Academy of Music’s Board of Trustees, it was imperative that the building’s iconic brownstone be restored to its original condition.  

This is where the team of experts at Datum Tech Solutions stepped in. Our team’s East Coast Training Manager, Bryant Schwartz, guided the Structural Technologies team, ensuring that they would have the equipment and expertise needed on site to create a high definition 3D survey of the building’s brownstone. The team at Structural Technologies needed accurate scans of the brownstone in order to plan for and execute the necessary repairs. 



St. Edwards Seminary | Kenmore, WA

When Daniels Real Estate, Ron Wright & Associates and Lydig Construction embarked on a project to preserve the St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, Washington they knew that the historical preservation and adaptive reuse project would require the utmost care, precision and patience. The original build out of the St. Edward Seminary broke ground in 1931 and was designed by Seattle architect John Graham Sr. Original construction of the building began in March of 1931 and was wrapped in a mere six months. 

Prior to the preservation project, time had been unkind to this Romanesque Revival building. While its exterior offered park passerbys gleaming views of brilliant brick veneer reaching four stories high, the building’s interior had fallen victim to decades of neglect and water damage. 

Lydig Construction worked in tandem with architectural firm Ron Wright & Associates to plan and execute the adaptive reuse of the seminary into its present day escape, offering visitors near and far activities and amenities unique to the Pacific Northwest. Lydig Construction’s VDC Manager, Christian Waldo shared some of his insight into the scope and depth of the project from the outset. 

The seminary is about 75,000 square feet and includes 84 rooms in total. When Waldo and his team embarked on the project they were working with 2D AutoCAD files. It became apparent early on that two dimensional renderings of the building weren't going to provide the team with the planning framework required to comply with the rules and regulations set forth by the local and federal laws surrounding historic preservation. 3D models were going to be an integral component of ensuring that all of the subcontractors could complete work without running into unforeseen obstacles, figuratively and literally. 



“Buildings built almost 100 years ago weren’t designed to withstand the level of industrial grade kitchen equipment we needed to install … we were going to need to develop an as-built model if we wanted to stay in compliance and avoid damage to the building,” Waldo reiterated. 

Now, after concluding the restoration project, the St. Edward Seminary has transformed into The Lodge at St. Edward Park, a beautiful hotel and event space where people can enjoy a part of history. 

There are countless reasons why a historical site or landmark may need to undergo restoration. From general wear and tear to unforeseen damage caused by natural disasters, sites around the world are being revitalized with the help of laser scanners. If your team has been hired to breathe new life into a historic building, we recommend connecting with one of Datum Tech Solutions professionals today.

Ready to preserve your historical building? Fill out a contact form and our team of experts will get back to you in 24 hours! 

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