Known as a meticulous record-keeper, perhaps no one would appreciate today’s historic building information management (HBIM) tools more than the nation’s first President, George Washington. Fittingly, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (MVLA) now has a state-of-the-art HBIM tool—a 3-D model and database—to manage Washington’s 21-room Virginia mansion and 500-acre estate.
The process to develop the HBIM tool began with the review of extensive documentation, including the plantation’s Historic Structures Report (HSR) and Cultural Landscape Report (CLR), drawings created by archeologist Morley Williams in the 1930s, and new records from the MVLA’s recent restoration of the New Room in the mansion. The research was followed by a thorough tour and inspection of the mansion, along with the procurement of a series of laser scans.
Clear naming conventions have ensured consistency and enable users—including facilities staff, curators, and scholars—to find information both spatially and by searching the database. Information includes essential detail about the properties of the building and landscape elements as well as cultural information that documents historic references, stories, and legends. Database content ranges from measurements, dates, and manufacturers to archival photos and analytical documents.
The 3-D model was created with Autodesk’s Revit® software and imported into Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Users can quickly access wide-ranging information, ranging from details on nails and doorknobs to the location of the property’s honey locust trees. From a stewardship perspective, the tool will serve multiple purposes, including the creation of maintenance timetables and ensuring that future interventions in the home or on the property do not diminish Mount Vernon’s historic integrity.