The priest in charge of Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral said Wednesday that the landmark, which was nearly destroyed by a fire on Monday, will be closed for five or six years. Pivotal in its reconstruction could be a New York professor's 3D digital scans of Notre Dame and, possibly, a video game.
Over several years, one architecture historian at Vassar College used still photography and laser technology to create an intricate reconstruction of Notre Dame. What began as an attempt to better understand its Gothic structures could now prove invaluable to re-building the classic cathedral.
Andrew Tallon was a tireless advocate for Notre Dame's renovation. The Vassar College art professor collected billion points of data with laser scanners to reveal the structural nuances a normal picture never could.
"He and this building will forever be completely linked in my mind," said Lindsay Cook, one of Tallon's colleagues and former students at Vassar. "It is the only place where we have that data preserved … the beauty is they can be used in new ways in future generations."
Cook walked CBS News through some of Tallon's Notre Dame data points, including a cross-section of the knave roof. She said it took him roughly two years to compile images, combining his scans with high-definition pictures to make his 3D models look as accurate as possible.
Artists for 2014's "Assassin's Creed: Unity" reportedly also spent years digitally modeling the landmark, just like Tallon.
After the fire, a top European Union communications official said "preserving with digitization is important for us and for future generations."
Cook said Vassar hasn't been approached for Tallon's research, but says it's conceivable that his renderings could be used in the reconstruction. Meanwhile, France's prime minister said an international architects' competition will be held to rebuild the spire.
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