A Digital Glimpse into Liberty Island and a Week in Acadia
19 Jul 2019

A Digital Glimpse into Liberty Island and a Week in Acadia

 

19 Jul 2019

By Anna Tiburzi

Hi all!

First, a little about me – my name is Anna Tiburzi. I’m currently a graduate student studying Landscape Architecture at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) in Syracuse, NY. Before coming here, I received my Bachelor’s in Geography from SUNY Geneseo in 2015. Before you ask – yes, I do like maps and I’ve been known to have made a few, though I focused my geographical studies on the relationship between landscapes and people and how they shape each other.

The rare moments I’m not hunched over a drafting table or my laptop, I like to read – though I buy books at a faster pace then I can finish them. Other than that, I play video games, I buy art supplies, I plan adventures with friends – the usual. But like I said, I’m generally pretty attached to my laptop and lately I’ve been developing my skills and working out the strengths (and challenges) of the different programs I’ve learned to use so far after my first year in graduate school. This internship is an opportunity to get even more experience and expand what I know.

Over the next 11-weeks, I’ll be working with ACE in partnership with the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation (OCLP) in helping to develop the Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) for Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty National Monument by furthering existing 3D models of the island. Our goals for the project are to continue to develop current documentation and models that will help in future stewardship of the island, as well as create and document reusable workflows that can be adapted to other projects.

The OCLP’s Designing the Parks Internship Program offers the opportunity to participate in a week-long field experience trip to Acadia National Park, ME. So on June 8th, I pressed pause on Liberty Island and left Syracuse – along with three other OCLP interns from SUNY ESF – for Boston, MA to meet up with the other six interns who were also headed to Acadia.

We began work in Acadia on June 9th, developing six Cultural Landscape Inventories (CLI) for the park at Sieur de Monts, Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, Thunder Hole, Blackwoods campground, and Seawall campground. Working on the CLIs and meeting with different park staff, including the park superintendent, trail foreman, and curator, kept us all busy, but we found moments between to explore the park and Mt Desert Island – crossing the land bridge to Bar Island, ducking in and out of shops in the pouring rain, waking up before dawn to see the sunrise on top of Cadillac Mountain, and visiting the Abbe Museum. It was great meeting and working with the other interns and having the chance to get to know them all.

 Now back in Syracuse, NY, there was work to be done. Currently there are SketchUp models of Liberty Island across six different time periods: 1840, 1880, 1902, 1937, 1952, and 2018. One of our goals is to create digital repeat photography across each of these time periods for six different vantages of the island and its topography, views and vistas, spatial orientation, and circulation. I began by setting up preliminary scenes in SketchUp across all six models for comparison and to assess where further views and adjustments might be needed. I also began collecting examples of concepts for the project’s graphic style and exploring journal articles and other literature for precedents in digital historical reconstruction and speculative/uncertainty visualization.

Further development of the models is also underway, though very much still in the early stages. Along with setting up scenes across each of the models, I’ve begun developing terrain meshes from the existing contour information and CAD files and isolating the paths and walkways in each to be manipulated later. The terrain meshes are presenting some challenges; despite having both the SketchUp model and the CAD drawings, the geometry of the produced meshes are flawed in areas. More time will have to be devoted to fixing these areas, but I didn’t expect them all to come out perfect on their first try anyway.

While many of the vantages are based on views from existing photographs or concept images, there’s still a lot to be done perfecting the angles and using other techniques, such as strategically ghosting out blocking elements or features. Current trees have been temporarily hidden on their own layer and replaced by placeholders to make it easier to visualize and work with the model at this stage. I’m also looking for and researching any missing elements that can be added in; at this time, I’m working on the sea wall that surrounds the island, which is missing from each of the models.

Working with and between different programs presents its own challenges, but overall, the models, photographs, and maps that I’ve been given a chance to work with are amazing. It’s a look into Liberty Island’s past in a way that I’ve never had the chance to do before and I’m looking forward to progressing even further with the project and becoming more familiar with the resources at hand and the models themselves, as well as adding to them and helping create more comprehensive models and imagery.

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