Completed in 1891, Old Main is the oldest building on the University of Arizona’s (UA) campus in Tucson and the second oldest occupied building in Arizona. As the design-builder posed with the responsibility to reverse age-related deterioration and renovate the facility for modern-day functionality, Sundt knew how important it was to save the heart of the UA’s campus. We also knew that the procedure was not going to be easy; we had restored Old Main once before, 72 years earlier.
Ideally, a historic preservation and restoration project begins with an original set of drawings that depict every detail of the structure. Knowing what exists is an important first step when stabilizing a building and returning it to the look of yesterday. But what do you do when original drawings don’t exist?
An accurate representation of the 122-year-old building could have been created the old-fashioned way: a crew of workers taking hundreds of photos and measurements by hand. Next would be the tedious task of generating an updated set of drawings from all of the individual measurements. However, on this project, we employed a laser technology using millions of points of light to create an exact, digital representation of the building.
The laser beams measured angle, elevation and distance, sometimes generating 500,000 to a million measurements per second. Those images were then used to generate a precise, 3D model containing thousands of as-built data points accurate to within an eighth of an inch, exactly what was needed before going to work to save the heart of a university campus.
University of Arizona
Old Main Renovation