Vibrant pops of pastel colors, sleek architectural design, nautical themes, bold geometric shapes, and decorative motifs uniquely and distinctly define Miami Beach, Florida’s Art Deco District. The Art Deco style emerged after the Great Depression and gathered prominence in Miami Beach after the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 left 25,000 people without homes and businesses. These Art Deco buildings feature simple, clean shapes and were built from the 1920s through the early 1940s. They often are described as evoking resilience and optimism.
With more than 800 historic buildings located within Miami Beach’s Art Deco District, today it is home to the highest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the world. Historic preservation of the Art Deco District began in the 1970s when the area faced the threat of demolition because of a lack of building maintenance. In 1976, the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) was formed; in 1979, the area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Yet not every building has been saved and, recently, the issue of renovating buildings in the district has re-emerged. Essentially, the cost of historic preservation and repair continues to climb, prompting wealthy real-estate developers to consider renovating the buildings and building condo towers alongside them, forever changing the skyline. These discussions create a sense of urgency around documenting the buildings for historic preservation and future learning, especially as another critical factor impacts the district—extreme weather.
REALITY CAPTURE CREATES DIGITAL TWINS
Properly documenting any structure for posterity has its challenges, especially to create a digital twin, or a digital 3D model of a building. Along with ensuring people aren’t included in the scan, inaccurate measurements can impact the ability to create a true digital replica of the physical world. Also, not every reality capture product delivers the same point-cloud quality, which is critical to properly interpret a scan. Alternatively, drawings and plans created with manual measurements and other traditional survey methods can be prone to error and may not fully capture the architectural splendor of an Art Deco building or any historic structure.
Instead, a highly accurate, vivid and lifelike 3D representation of the building provides a beautiful and precise digital model that, most importantly, contains critical building information about the infrastructure, materials used to build it and layout, for example. Having complete scans of a building, down to millimeter-level accuracy, including what’s behind the walls and what’s under- ground, above and alongside the building, provides much needed information when it comes to repairs, retrofits and renovations. This information allows architects and builders to virtually experiment with designs.
The key technology to creating digital twins for historic preservation is 3D reality capture. As a reality-capture scanning consultant, helping preserve the Art Deco District has been my goal. Taking the advice of Daniel Ciraldo, MDPL’s executive director, I chose to help preservation efforts in the Art Deco District by scanning the Miami Beach Patrol Headquarters.
The Miami Beach Patrol Headquarters, which was built in 1939 on the beach, is one of the most iconic landmarks in the district. Tucked away from the bustle of the street and facing a broad expanse of white sand and shaggy dune grass, the stout 1 1/2 story structure of elegant curves and pert portholes is a pearl of the city’s Art Deco District and the current headquarters of its Ocean Rescue team.
During the past year, the city of Miami Beach constructed a 7-mile-long beach walk from the northern limits to the southern tip of South Beach, making the Miami Beach Patrol Headquarters even more prominent. Given its location, the building is in the direct path of hurricanes and storms. This is why it’s critical to have real, comprehensive and detailed surveys of the headquarters.
IMAGES: Corey Weiner