The Art of Technology Extending the Life of Art…Temporarily

March 8, 2016

What if we can take something precious that has expired and gives it a new yet altered life? Mortality is imminent, but I set out to extend something in time and virtual space – something for anyone to experience, but only temporarily.

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Entrance of the Art Hotel, with Golden 1 Center construction behind / image courtesy


The Art Hotel was temporary; material at a moment in time and space visited by some 15,000 people. Nearly 100 artists created an immersive art experience in a doomed five-story apartment building. Open for only nine days, when gone, it would only exist in memories, words and pictures. As a transition, I challenged our team to use our in-house laser scanning tools to create a Virtual Art Hotel and host it online for a limited time – sharing our City’s art with the world.

Art Hotel exterior point cloud

Art Hotel exterior point cloud / image(s) by Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture

Using laser scanning (LIDAR), 122 separate scans recorded a detailed model of all the spaces in the building. The resulting “point cloud” is made of millions of points representing a location in space and a color. An online interface allows navigation of this virtual building.

Scanning the Art Hotel

Scanning the Art Hotel / photo(s) by Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture

An altered state

A sometimes-distorted experience, one is drawn in with intrigue while challenged with the navigation through a foreign spatial environment. Fine details are exposed and areas inaccessible to all but light waves open up for casual browsing.


Optical aberrations created by the interaction of the laser scanner and different materials create spatial forms that didn’t exist when viewing the exhibition in person. Similar to the way a mirror creates a duplicate yet reversed world, in the point cloud, the reflection is made virtually real.Second floor hallway point cloud

Blue artifacts extend into space along with ghostly figures of people who walked through the scan.

The Virtual Art Hotel heeds the mortal proviso of the Art Hotel and will close down on March 12, 2016 when all the data will be erased. Take your virtual tour soon.




The Virtual Art Hotel is a project created by design principal Jason A. Silva, AIA. Laser scanning was lead by Chad Garcia, design technology director, with modeling by Gabe Bardales. Visit the project at