Recorded for posterity: University of Birmingham scans Chicago museum's future home

Posted on Wednesday 24th October 2012

The University of Birmingham has presented the National Public Housing Museum (NPHM) with a 3D laser scan of the Museum’s future home in Chicago’s west side.

The scan marks the first joint project between the University and the Museum and was announced by Professor Malcolm Press, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Engagement in the Americas at the University of Birmingham, and Dr Keith L. Magee, NPHM Executive Officer on Friday 19 October.

Opening in 2013, the National Public Housing Museum is the first cultural institution in the United States dedicated to interpreting the American experience in public housing. The Museum draws on the power of place and memory to illuminate the resilience of poor and working class families of every race and ethnicity.

The terrestrial laser scanning was undertaken in August 2012 by the University of Birmingham, in conjunction with the NPHM. The result is a metrically accurate 3D point-cloud (i.e. record) of the building as it survives today, before any future development proceeds. The 3D dataset will not only serve as a basis for interpretation and as an aid in architectural planning, but will also serve as an historic legacy to preserve the past. 

Professor Malcolm Press, said: “It is with great pleasure that we are sharing the results of our first joint project with the National Public Housing Museum.  There are such intriguing parallels between our two cities' histories and their visions for the future. It seemed fitting, therefore, to work together using leading edge technology to record for posterity the NPHM's important building before the next phase of its life. As part of our global engagement strategy, we continue to build links with Chicago and this partnership is one of a growing number of exciting initiatives by the University of Birmingham with partners across the state of Illinois.”

“We are thoroughly excited about our partnership with the University of Birmingham and deeply grateful for the incredible laser scan created by their team,” said Dr Keith L. Magee. “As we move toward opening the museum, it is essential to preserve the authenticity of this building designed by the team of architects led by John Holabird and lived in by thousands of families. The scan allows us to keepsake an important focal point as we hold the history and look to the future of this treasured site.” 

Dr Richard Clay and Dr Henry Chapman, co-directors of do.collaboration (previously known as the Heritage and Cultural Learning Hub), at the University of Birmingham presented the scan, allowing visitors to experience a virtual tour of the building as it stands today.  Also present at the scan reveal was British Consul General Robert Chatterton Dickson, Chicago Housing Authority CEO Charles Woodyard representing Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, State Senator Annazette Collins, and US Congressman Danny K. Davis, who spoke of his own experiences uplifting the poor and the joy of seeing the museum and its vision moving forward.

Dr Erica Arthur, International Development Manager for North America in International Relations, coordinates and supports a multi-disciplinary group from the University working on cultural engagement activities in Chicago and across Illinois.  These include the partnership with the NPHM and developing projects with the Smart Museum and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater amongst others.

To view the scan, visit: www.publichousingmuseum.org/

Notes to Editors

  • A leading UK research-intensive university, the University of Birmingham is a vibrant, global community and an internationally-renowned institution, in the top 100 globally. With approximately 28,000 students and 6,000 members of staff, its work brings people from more than 150 countries to Birmingham.  The University has a bold strategy to develop its global reputation by enhancing its international presence and collaborations. In addition to Chicago and Illinois, Birmingham has strategic partnerships with another sister city, Guangzhou (China), and in India, Brazil and Australia. For further information, visit: www.birmingham.ac.uk
  • The National Public Housing Museum and the Center for the Study of Housing and Society promotes and fosters the deep cultural understanding through artifacts, photos, archival documents, social history, public policy, and other material objects spanning seven decades. It  is  the  first  institution  dedicated  to  interpreting  the  experience  of public and social housing and the illumination of resilience of poor and working class families of every race and ethnicity. The Museum is slated for a phased opening beginning in 2013. For further information, visit: www.publichousingmuseum.org   
  • For media enquiries, please contact: Catherine Byerley, International Press and PR Officer, University of Birmingham, Tel +44 (0) 121 414 8254 / +44(0) 7827 832 312, Email c.j.byerley@bham.ac.uk