September 26, 2013

See the Unseen: Amazing 3-D Views of Historic Churches and Theaters

  • By: Lauren Walser
Reconstructed Chapter House. Vina, California. (2013)

For the past two years, San Francisco-based designer Scott Page has been taking his 11-lb. 3-D laser scanner into historic churches and theaters all around the Bay Area, including Bernard Maybeck’s First Church of Christ, Scientist in Berkeley and the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, collecting point clouds of data and photographic images to quickly and accurately map every detail of a building’s interior, down to each visible beam and pipe.

“[Scanning] allows you to visualize buildings in ways you couldn’t see them before,” Page says. “You can really get to places where you couldn’t before, even just five years ago.”

His scans are as practical as they are artistic. Laser scanning has huge implications for historic preservation, namely in that it helps builders better study a space before making repairs or alterations. The images he captures allow builders and architects to measure any part of the building, without having to get out the ladder and tape measure, he says.

Reconstructed 12-13th Century Cistercian Chapter House. Vina, California. (2013)
The newly reconstructed 12th-13th century Cistercian Chapter House for the New Clairveaux Monastery in Vina, Calif., is the oldest reconstructed european building west of the Rocky Mountains.

“It’s the fastest way to accurately map a building, and it can save a lot of time and money,” he says. “That’s the power of it.”

Page’s scans also create a useful archive for future preservation efforts.

“Many older buildings don’t have the best blueprints, or they’ve been destroyed or lost over time,” Page says. “If something happens to the building, this will be the best record available.”

Here are some more indelible images from Page's collection:

Maybeck's First Church of Christ, Scientist: Sanctuary. Designed 1910 (with connecting hall to 1927 Addition). Berkeley, Ca. (2013)
Maybeck's First Church of Christ, Scientist (sanctuary shown above) was designed in 1910 with a connecting hall to a 1927 addition. The church has National Landmark Status.

 

Maybeck's First Church of Christ, Scientist: Section/elevation through sanctuary. Berkeley, Ca. (2013)
Maybeck's First Church of Christ, Scientist: Section/elevation through sanctuary.

 

Maybeck's First Church of Christ, Scientist: Section/elevation through sanctuary (mid-point). Berkeley, Ca. (2013)
Maybeck's First Church of Christ, Scientist: Section/elevation through sanctuary (mid-point).

 

Reconstructed Chapter House: Plan. Vina, California. (2013)
Reconstructed Chapter House: Plan.

 

Reconstructed Chapter House: Section. Vina, California. (2013)
Reconstructed Chapter House: Section.

 

Reconstructed Chapter House: Section/Elevation. Vina, California. (2013)
Reconstructed Chapter House: Section/Elevation.

 

Reconstructed Chapter House: Section/Elevation. Vina, California. (2013)
Reconstructed Chapter House: Section/Elevation.

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

Donations from people like you make the work of the National Trust possible. Support our work today to save places that matter.

Donate Today