(Drexel University, Philadelphia, United States)


I.  Process LIDAR area scan data of The President’s House archaeological excavation site to accurately produce a surface mesh upon which to base our visualization model.

II. Work with Architectural Historians, Independence National Historical Park Rangers, and Archaeologists to identify and draft plans for the architectural model.

III. Design and develop a digital model library of historic architectural features based on our research data.

IV. Develop a conjectural historic model of the President’s House featuring the ability to interchange architectural elements through a simple user interface.


This proposed session paper offers an overview of “3D Colonial Philadelphia’s” digital asset development for the President’s House site in Independence National Historical Park.  The work is being conducted as part of my MS thesis in Digital Media at Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University. We were tasked with creating a conjectural digital model of the original house based on historical research and LIDAR scan point cloud data from the excavation site.  There are very few historic records of the President’s House.  It was therefore necessary to create a dynamic model capable of extensive architectural feature adjustment to accommodate potential consensus shifts in light of future research.

Our approach to creating the President’s House Model began through a combination of consultations with park professionals, physical examination of existing structures, millwork of the same era, and research into the carpentry trade manuals used around the time of construction.  Based on our findings, we then created an innovative procedural asset library of architectural features we could use to model and construct the house.  This asset library contains nearly all of the millwork, ironwork, window styles, door types, and hardware we catalogued during our research.

Conjectural model development is an ongoing process with frequent revisions.  Rather than start from scratch at each juncture, we chose to create a flexible system that can easily accommodate design changes.  The historical asset library we developed allows for complete dynamic adjustment of nearly all the architectural components of the house.  Through a simple graphic user interface, we can not only manipulate the position and scale of elements, but actually swap between different styles of architectural features such as door types, window styles, moulding profiles, ironwork, and masonry.


Colonial Philadelphia Conjectural President’s House