Achievement Unlocked: How Gaming is the Leading Force in Historic Preservation

What Is BIM?

Autodesk defines BIM as: Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the holistic process of creating and managing information for a built asset. Based on an intelligent model and enabled by a cloud platform, BIM integrates structured, multi-disciplinary data to produce a digital representation of an asset across its lifecycle, from planning and design to construction and operations.

Achievement Unlocked: How Gaming is the Leading Force in Historic Preservation

Written by: Amanda Rahfaldt


Long day at work, and you decide to kick back on the Xbox or PlayStation. You may choose Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, or Minecraft, but I say you should play Assassin’s Creed.

Assassin’s Creed, Notre-Dame, Historic Preservation?

The fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019, was a devastating event to many. The fire caused significant damage including the destruction of its spire and parts of the roof. Firefighters battled the blaze for hours to save the historic structure.

If you play video games you may be familiar with a game developed by Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed: Unity.  The game is set in Paris during the French Revolution and features a detailed 3D model of Notre-Dame Cathedral. The level of detail in the in-game representation was so high that it drew the attention of historians and architects.

After the fire, it was revealed that Ubisoft’s 3D model of Notre-Dame could potentially be used in the reconstruction efforts. The company offered to share its digital reconstruction of the cathedral with architects, historians, and restorers to assist in the restoration process. This 3D model, created for a video game, could serve as a valuable reference for rebuilding the damaged portions of the cathedral.

It’s a unique example of how technology, including video games, can play a role in historic preservation and restoration efforts. While “Assassin’s Creed: Unity” may not have been developed with this purpose in mind, its detailed virtual representation of Notre-Dame Cathedral turned out to be an unexpected resource in the wake of the tragic fire.

Technological Advancements

One of the most groundbreaking developments in historic preservation is the use of lasers and drones. These cutting-edge technologies are revolutionizing how we document, inspect, and restore historic structures.

“Back in the day” preservationists would painstakingly take measurements of every detail they could by hand. Taking a measuring tape and calling the numbers to someone with a clipboard. A LOT of human error was a factor in the process of 2D drawings. Thanks to 21st century evolutionary technology we now have access to lasers, cameras, and drones to document our historic buildings.


You might have a DeWalt or Bosch laser measuring tape in your toolkit, that technology has only been around for the last 30 years. Apply that concept of laser, pinpointed accuracy on a larger scale. A laser distance measure sends a focused pulse of light to the target and measures the time it takes for the reflection to return. Introducing the Lidar, a camera-looking device that captures data by targeting an object with a laser and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver.

Instead of the by hand method of measuring everything, a laser is now able to scan a whole room and get pinpointed measurements as well as a digital render of what the room looks like with double the accuracy.


Not to be confused with your gramma’s photos. The process of Photogrammetry is the use of photography in surveying and mapping to measure distances between objects. Imagine countless photos taken from different angles and perspectives​ to create a photorealistic digital reconstruction of a building. Typically, a drone is a common capture method, in addition to common photography.

Both the Lidar and Photogrammetry can be combined to create the most realistic digital model. Both 3D rendering processes are a small part of the BIM process. In this context we are using these hyper accurate measurements and models for the preservation for generations to come.

BIMTM’s Role in Historic Preservation

BIM at its core function uses digital models for the planning, design, construction, and management of building and infrastructure projects. Anyone can see the natural fit our company has in these technological ways of documentations because we do this with modern buildings and structures too. BIMTM does other services for modern day projects, such as MEP/GC coordination, prefabrication solutions, management and much more. BIM can be used for historic or modern projects. If you’re looking for historic preservation BIM services click here.

The Future of Historic Preservation

It may look like an oxymoron, but who knows what the future holds. We are told to study history – to not repeat the past, yet in this rapidly advancing age, we find ourselves rewriting history with innovative tools like lasers, drones, and hyper-accurate digital models. Right now, lasers, scanning tools and drones seem top of the line in modern technologies, but it might not be the industry standard in 20 years from now. The future awaits…

While the Midwest and the United States may not have a world-famous architectural marvel like Notre-Dame, the lessons learned from its devastating fire and the innovative technologies developed in its wake remind us to cherish the preservation of our heritage. It’s not a building-by-building restoration effort but a global endeavor. It’s a testament to human ingenuity and our commitment to honoring the legacy of those who came before us.

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