g2“Our duty is to preserve what the past has had to say for itself, and to say for ourselves what shall be true for the future,” wrote the Victorian era art critic, John Ruskin.

Ruskin’s particular love of architecture would surely have made him a champion of the efforts of Vinnie Savoy, whose unique company, Relentless Designs, employs modern technology to preserve what might otherwise be forever lost.

Savoy’s love of historic buildings led him to create an unusual niche for himself in the preservation effort. All too aware that progress can sometimes be the nemesis of preservation, Savoy’s company steps in not to halt sometimes necessary renovations of historic buildings, but to create astonishingly accurate small-scale models of the structures–inside and out–so that they are in a sense fixed in a particular moment in time, like old photographs that never change.

A stroke of genius, really, Savoy’s mission is to “make historical designs relentless.” That is, to meticulously duplicate the blueprints, site elevations, floor plans, and every last detail of the interior and exterior, from moldings, to window frames, doors and their fixtures, stairs, columns, and the like to create what he calls “historical blueprints.” Every inch of a structure is measured so that Savoy can convert the data to three dimensions–animations and, ultimately, 3D printed models that are breathtakingly detailed and accurate.

Governor's Mansion (11)

Relentless Designs has taken on an exciting project: The Governor’s Mansion in Opelousas, Louisiana. The historic old house, which is undergoing extensive renovations, is being granted new life or, rather, a second chance at capturing its past grandeur, thanks to Savoy’s technological intervention. After exhaustively studying the house down to every last nail and shingle with the help of blueprints, old photographs and other architectural documents, Savoy produces what he refers to as HABS, Historical American Building Survey Drawings. The drawings are then submitted to the Library of Congress, where they are uploaded to an online database so that anyone can view or download them. They are then archived permanently.

The second step in Savoy’s process is to create a 3D printed model of a structure–in this instance, the Governor’s Mansion. The model is printed in PLA at 3% the size of the original building. After printing, the model is sanded, assembled, and painted to match the house’s original design. One of the most amazing aspects of Savoy’s method is that, with the collected data and images, he can recreate the mansion as it looked in any given time period.

While we certainly cannot halt the march of time nor can we save every historic building from the wrecking ball, Savoy’s impressive, relentlessly painstaking process quite ingeniously employs modern technology to preserve history.  Do you know of any historic buildings you’d like to see preserved in this manner?  Let us know in the 3D Printing Historic Buildings forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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