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Group using 3-D scans to digitally preserve California's missions

Crews from an Oakland-based nonprofit called CyArk are mapping the fragile structures so that they can be accurately rebuilt in the event of a disaster.

January 01, 2013|By Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times

CyArk has surveyed some 70 sites around the world, including the Japanese American internment camp at Manzanar, a Frank Lloyd Wright synagogue in Pittsburgh and the ruins at Pompeii, Italy. It focused on the missions when state officials asked for an interactive map of El Camino Real, the 600-mile route linking them. The map, accessible at http://archive.cyark.org, was aimed at bolstering a bid for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Route.

That project made it all the more natural for CyArk to get involved with the icons of California history, Kacyra said. Over the next two to three years, the work will cost $700,000 to $800,000 for the state's missions, four presidios and three pueblos. The bulk of the money will come from preservation groups and other private donors.

Whether laser-precise 3D images will make it easier for California's fourth-graders to build their required mission models is an open question. But such images were helpful in tiny Hill City, S.D., where students in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore considered concepts of volume and scale in tackling the question: How many first-graders can fit inside George Washington's nose?

The answer, reached with the aid of a downloaded CyArk scan blown up to monument size: 20.

steve.chawkins@latimes.com

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