Digital Technology Captures Images Of Historic Buildings

The machines are mounted on tripods and they move back and forth, scanning downtown buildings.

"It's sending out a pulsed laser beam towards the building side that we're interested in collecting the data for," said Phil Barker, a High Definition Survey Technician with PBS&J of Gulfport.

The lasers make digital images of each building and they measure everything, from the height of the doors to the span of the walls.

"It's amazing," said Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr. "What it does is it speeds the process up dramatically. It makes a digital photograph that can be used as they're working on drawings."

The city of Gulfport hired PBS&J to collect the data and provide 3-D models of more than 80-buildings. Those historic structures are getting a face-lift, as part of a $4.5 million state Facade Grant.

"It's really neat," said Marvin Koury, a downtown Gulfport business owner. "They're really giving us the class A treatment on how they're going to redo the facades."

The scanners can actually focus on a particular feature of a building to capture the finer details. All the information is transmitted back to a field computer, located in a truck.

"Now, I can set up safely in an air-conditioned vehicle and gather the data remotely, whereas before, I would have to take a tape measure or some other instrument and physically measure the building itself," Barker said.

The drawings and data will give architects a more accurate picture, as they begin to design the buildings' facades.

"It's been a long time coming for a lot of development, and we've all been very anxious," Koury said.

The scanning process will be finished sometime next week. The architects will then meet with the downtown property owners to find out how they would like their buildings to look.

By: Trang Pham-Bui