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USF's Center for Digital Heritage works to preserve Tampa's architectural history

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Posted at 4:58 AM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 08:15:23-04

YBOR CITY, Fla. — The Center for Digital Heritage and Geospatial Information in USF's Libraries is using 3D scanning to preserve Tampa's architectural history.

According to a press release, the center is bringing together 3D experts from the Digital Heritage and Humanities Collections (DHHC) and the GIS Alliance group as part of a new official Center designation by the University and recently approved by the Board of Governors.

The new facility is home to advanced 3D and imaging equipment and provides an organization unit for research, addressing real-world challenges in heritage preservation and helping to produce archival records and library collections of distinction using 3D imaging and related technologies.

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3D Tampa from the Tampa Through Time© Web Portal.
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USF’s 3D Reality Capture survey of West Tampa's Bustillo Bros. and Diaz Cigar Company factory will become part of the Tampa Through Time© 3D and spatial mapping library archive.

"Heritage sites in Tampa offer an important look into our collective memory, but many of these sites, even those designated of local and national significance are at risk of disappearing,” said Lori Collins, Research Associate Professor, and co-Director of the new USF Center. “We believe that by documenting these sites using 3D technologies, mapping, and imaging, we will help to not only preserve Tampa’s past before additional loss but will be able to share and create lasting records that will be archived by the USF Libraries for our community.”

Collins said the Center is committed to digitally preserving some of Tampa’s most iconic, historically significant, and in many cases imperiled locations.

As an initial project, the release said the team is building on grants and work they've done locally for more than a decade. That work will serve as the foundation for the group's "Tampa Through Time" initiative, which is digitally scanning and archiving Tampa's architectural past.

The release said at the heart of the "Tampa Through Time" initiative is a spatial database that allows for an interactive web-based understanding of the city from its past through the present. The database will be part of a featured collection for USF Libraries.

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3D laser scanning survey of the Moseley Homestead National Register of Historic Places site in Brandon, including digital floor plans and sectional view. The Moseley Homestead is included as a highlighted location in the Tampa Through Time© USF Libraries collections.
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Interactive 3D model of the Jackson Rooming House National Register site in Tampa. The Jackson Rooming house project is incorporated as a site of noted significance within the Tampa Through Time© interactive archive project

“We have resources like oversized map collections, City Directories, and historical photos that will now be linked to locations, so researchers, students, and heritage enthusiasts will be able to get a much more complete understanding of the Tampa Bay region," said Libraries Dean, Todd Chavez.

He added that the ability to bring these types of collections together in immersive ways will stimulate new interest and research.

“The Tampa Through Time project will bring to life our community’s past and make these digital preservation tools available broadly,” Collins said. “We are approaching this effort like the Modern Burgert Brothers,” Collins said, referring to the famous local historic photographers who documented Tampa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“We want to create a lasting documentation of Tampa that will build on important historic works and include new virtual and 3D approaches."

She added, "I like to think if the Burgert’s had lasers they would have used them, too.”

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3D laser scanning model of the entry door of the Columbia Restaurant. The Columbia is a featured location for the Tampa Through Time© USF Libraries archival project