Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Historic Preservation

Committee Member

Amalia Leifeste, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Amy Elizabeth Uebel

Committee Member

Katherine Saunders Pemberton

Committee Member

Ralph Muldrow


The historic preservation field, enabled by advances in technology, has demonstrated an increased interest in digitizing cultural heritage sites and historic structures. Increases in software capabilities as well as greater affordability has fostered augmented use of digital documentation technologies for architectural heritage applications. Literature establishes four prominent categories of digital documentation tools for preservation: laser scanning, photogrammetry, multimedia geographic information systems (GIS) and three-dimensional modeling. Thoroughly explored through published case studies, the documentation techniques for recording heritage are most often integrated. Scholarly literature does not provide a parallel comparison of the four technologies. A comparative analysis of the four techniques, as presented in this thesis, makes it possible for cities to understand the most applicable technique for their preservation objectives. The thesis analyzes four cases studies that employ applications of the technologies: New Orleans Laser Scanning, University of Maryland Photogrammetry, Historic Columbia Maps Project and the Virtual Historic Savannah Project. Following this, the thesis undertakes a trial of each documentation technology – laser scanning, photogrammetry, multimedia GIS and three-dimensional modeling – utilizing a block on Church Street between Queen and Chalmers streets within the Charleston Historic District. The apparent outcomes of each of the four techniques is analyzed according to a series of parameters including: audience, application, efficacy in recordation, refinement, expertise required, manageability of the product, labor intensity and necessary institutional capacity. A concluding matrix quantifies the capability of each of the technologies in terms of the parameters. This method furnishes a parallel comparison of the techniques and their efficacy in architectural heritage documentation within mid-sized cities.



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