3D Historic Preservation and Landscape Architecture – A Powerful Combination

Thomas J. Elmore began his formal education by earning an Associates degree from Colombia-Greene Community College, while living in my hometown of Catskill, NY. As they say, it’s a small world. After going on to earn his BS and MS in Landscape Architecture and  3D Historic Preservation, Thomas J. Elmore began Elmore Design Collaborative, LLC, Historical Landscape Architecture, in 1999.


For the next nineteen years, Tom honed his unique combination of professional interests as a sole practitioner based in Suffield, CT using traditional 2D surveying tools and techniques, including cameras and tape measures.

During that time Tom was involved with a number of high profile projects. This included the development of a Cultural Landscape Report for former President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt’s iconic stone cottage, known as Top Cottage, in Hyde Park, NY, in the beautiful Hudson River valley where Tom and I grew up.

The Epiphany

It was during the bidding process on a project in the small Adirondack Mountain town of Saranac Lake, NY that Tom had one of those life changing moments. The project involved the development of a master plan for the  town’s 11 parks. Saranac Lake did not have any kind of comprehensive mapping available for the project and although Tom did not win the competition it started a thought process and investigation that would lead to a major pivot in his professional career.

Tom began to research the options available to him for developing a town-wide, base map. Initially he looked into the use of photogrammetry. This quickly led him to the idea of using drones and then lidar, since there were numerous locations where the tree canopy presented a problem with obtaining the bare earth model needed by a landscape architect.

3D Scan of a Residence

3D Scan of a Residence

The ability to collect 3D data is what Tom became the most interested in. Since most of his projects tended to be individual properties, as opposed to town-wide in scale, he began to research 3D, terrestrial laser scanners. The high cost of fixed tripod scanners quickly pushed him in the direction of mobile units. Given that most of his projects were at the landscape scale he did not need nor want to pay for the high accuracy of many tripod laser scanners.

Tom was not impressed with the general ergonomics of backpacks, so he quickly settled on handhelds.

He personally visited with the leading vendors to try out their units. As a landscape architect color is a critical element of Tom’s design visualization process. He finally settled on Paracosm’ s PX-80, with its ability to produce colored 3D point clouds, as the unit he wanted to invest in.

On the software side Tom’s hands-on research led him to Montreal, Canada to the home of Geo-Plus and their VisionLidar software. The Geo-Plus team demonstrated their ability to work with the PX-80 scan and photo data.

Finally, Tom had the 3D data capture sensor and visualization software that would satisfy his professional needs.

The Next Generation

Point cloud of 3D Historic Preservation #2

3D Historic Preservation #2

In May of 2018 Tom founded The GeoNAV Group, LLC with an eye to developing a new suite of 3D-based data capture and design services. The GeoNAV group utilizes cutting edge technology to scan and document buildings, landscapes and other unique features. Accessible indoor or outdoor, natural or man-made spaces can be scanned and mapped.

The GeoNAV Group’s real-time, reality capture capabilities with their mobile LiDAR scanner provides comprehensive and scalable documentation of existing conditions with built-in flexibility to scan while walking. This eliminates the need for individual setups of terrestrial scanners and gives them the ability to scan unique and complex environments.

Tom has a number of interesting projects lined up for 2019, including scans at a Revolutionary War prison with copper mine, a five story building and a historic cemetery with the PX-80 and ground penetrating radar. The cemetery association requested this unique combination of services and Tom was happy to oblige.

Tom is considering hiring a young technician who has some experience with Revit and other third-party software. He is also thinking about acquiring a drone with lidar to expand his service offerings. Now if Mother Nature will only cooperate by melting the snow cover, Tom’s new venture can take off.

For more information on the PX-80 click here.

3D historic preservation, 3D historic preservation, 3D historic preservation


  • Hey
    I have found this article very useful
    Thank you

  • Thanks a lot to you for sharing historic preservation landscape architecture here, these kind of ideas are were much needed. I really appreciate that you have provided the data too, really appreciative and useful blog for us. Looking for more!!If you are looking same kind of valuable information, then can also visit Yardscape.co.nz

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