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Back in 2012, the Port Authority gave us solo access to photograph the TWA Flight Center in hopes that coverage could galvanize support for the repurposing of the landmarked terminal at JFK Airport. Now that plans are underway to convert it into a hotel, the Port Authority has partnered with researchers from the University of Central Florida to digitally scan the interior and exterior of the structure in 3D. The scan will begin on Monday and take five days to complete.

“This is one of the great masterpieces of midcentury architecture,” said researcher Lori Walters of the Institute for Simulation & Training and the Department of History, both at UCF. “We want to preserve it for future generations as it looks prior to any modifications that will be made in the near future. [The scan] will enable you to walk around and interface with the environment, so you’ll be able hear an oral history snippet, see photographs, read documents, learn about the period and what jet travel was like in the 1960s.”

They use sophisticated, tripod-mounted scanners that bounce lasers off objects, creating a point cloud  of buildings and objects. Multiple scans are stitched together to create a 3-D depiction accurate down to two millimeters.

Working with UCF history instructor Michelle Adams, Walters has created digital 3-D depictions as varied as the New York State Pavilion from the 1964-65 World’s Fair, NASA’s Saturn V rocket and the Apollo 14 capsule. Here are videos about those scans:

Next, explore 5 NYC street art pieces in 3D. See more photographs of the TWA Flight Center interior.

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