The following comes from a November 6 story on

Mission Dolores, the oldest intact building in the Bay Area, has gone digital. At the end of last week, equipment using pulsed laser beams scanned the 221-year-old building to complete the first three-dimensional picture of the mission.

The lasers measured every corner of the building, from the familiar white facade that faces the street to the rafters in the attic, still held together with rawhide beams.

Though there have been conventional blueprints of the old mission over the years, there has been nothing like this. The lasers can look inside the walls and provide exact measurements of the building’s nooks and crannies.

“We are using new tools to bring old sites to life,” said Tom Greaves, executive director of CyArk, an Oakland nonprofit that is running the project. Mission Dolores was the first of California’s 21 Spanish missions to get the full treatment. Eventually, Greaves said, the company plans to document all the missions, plus the surviving buildings of the four presidios and three pueblos built during the Spanish and Mexican period in California.

“We are using 21st century technology on 18th century buildings,” Greaves said.

A three-dimensional digital picture of the mission can serve several purposes. One is in seismic retrofitting of the buildings, which were constructed of adobe brick with wooden rafters and support beams and are highly vulnerable in earthquakes.

Billions of laser measurements were taken this spring of the walls and roof of Mission San Carlos Borremeo in Carmel and were then used in a seismic retrofit project currently under way….

Earlier this year, CyArk took measurements of the quadrangle complex at Mission San Luis Rey in San Diego County, a project that would have taken months to complete using conventional methods. The lasers did the job in 3 1/2 days.

The 3-D pictures also help the missions’ staffs tell the story of the missions, said Andrew Galvan, curator of Mission Dolores. Galvan is a descendant of Ohlone Indians – one of his ancestors was baptized in Mission Dolores in 1794. “Native people built these buildings,” he said, “And we have 10 generations of history in this room.”

To learn more about CyArk’s Mission Dolores project, click here.

To read entire SFGate story, click here.