The late Andrew Tallon described his work as “the study of the structure of Gothic buildings.” Among his conclusions was the need for Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to undergo restoration.  And, in the process of his research, he scanned and preserved the state of the cathedral. His 3D point clouds may now help to bring the historic cathedral back to its former glory after a fire destroyed portions of the landmark.

He described his work in 2010, for the documentary Arte, Les cathédrales dévoilées,  Producers  funded a $10,000 state-of-the-art laser survey of the cathedral of Paris which, Tallon noted, supplied key new information for my 2013 monograph on the cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris: neuf siècles d’histoire, coauthored with Dany Sandron (University of Paris-Sorbonne). “Subsequent laser studies of key Gothic buildings such as the cathedral of Chartres and the abbey church of Saint-Denis—nearly 40 in total—were made possible through the Mellon Foundation grant and through the Lucy Maynard Salmon fund at Vassar College,” he added when he described his work.

Along with his students, Tallon completed the first accurate architectural drawings of Canterbury Cathedral using a five billion point laser scan made in December 2014. At the time, he noted, “We have also created the first accurate plans of the cathedrals of Chartres and Bourges; both are published and have become the official reference drawings used by state-employed restoration architects.”

The size of the databases (typically on the order of 100 gigabytes each) dictated that the work take place at Vassar. But a new turnkey point-cloud distribution solution called JetStream, developed by Leica Geosystems, has the potential to change this, he had commented.  “JetStream is now running at Vassar in Amazon cloudspace, and will soon make possible long-distance research collaborations with specialists throughout the world.”