Restoration of Notre Dame May Be Part of Professor Andrew Tallon’s Legacy

Even as firefighters sifted through the ashes at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris today, seeking clues about the cause of the tragic blaze, Catholic clergy and French officials were turning their attention to the massive rebuilding project. And in media reports on the fire and its aftermath, many experts in the field noted the key role the work of a renowned architectural historian, the late Vassar Associate Professor of Art Andrew Tallon, may play in the restoration.

The late Associate Professor of Art Andrew Tallon, pictured at work scanning the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.Photo: Craig W. Stapert

Tallon, who died of cancer on November 18, 2018, pioneered the use of laser technology and advanced imaging techniques and built a digital model of Notre Dame. His work with images captured by the drone-borne, 360-degree spherical cameras he deployed at the 800-year-old cathedral continued until his death. In a publication following his death, the Society of Architectural Historians said Tallon “was esteemed worldwide as an innovative scholar of French Gothic art and architecture, one who introduced new digital techniques to the analysis and re-creation of the spatial archaeology of medieval buildings. In all his work, he was an inspired and generous educator who brought the past to life in vivid and meaningful ways.”

As news of the tragic fire spread throughout the world, engineers and architects alluded to Tallon’s unique, inch-by-inch analysis of Notre Dame as they discussed the daunting rebuilding project in the media. A report on CBS This Morning said the more than one billion points of data Tallon had gathered scanning the cathedral “could now be invaluable in the reconstruction,” an observation repeated many times as the tragedy was discussed across the globe.

Many in the media were apparently first alerted about Tallon’s connection with Notre Dame Cathedral by Vassar alum Hannah Groch-Begley ’12, who had taken a class with Tallon and provided the information about his work at the cathedral on her Twitter feed shortly after the fire broke out.

Following are some of the national and international media reports referencing Tallon’s work:

CBS This Morning/CBS News
Video game "Assassin's Creed" could play a role in Notre Dame Cathedral's restoration

Nightline/ABC News
Notre Dame Cathedral could take three years to be reopened to public, official says

AFP
On American hard drives, the most accurate 3-D model of Notre-Dame

The Atlantic
The Images That Could Help Rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral

CNN
Four years ago, an art historian used lasers to digitally map Notre Dame Cathedral. His work could help save it

Forbes
We Have Beautiful 3-D Laser Maps Of Every Detail Of Notre Dame

Fortune
A Late Professor Digitally Scanned Notre Dame. Now His Work May Give the Cathedral New Life

Poughkeepsie Journal
Notre Dame fire: Could Vassar research aid rebuilding of cathedral?

ZD Net
In the wake of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, digital scans offer hope for restoration