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The Theatre at Pergamon: Constructing the Model

    In 1992 there were few desk top Computer Assisted Drafting and Design (CADD) programs available for desk top computers. In the University of Washington School of Drama we were fortunate to have been associated with Generic CADD, a small company in Redmond Washington that produced 2D and 3D drafting and modeling software that is unsurpassed today in its excellence, ease of use and loyal user support. The history of this software and of its untimely demise was at one time well documented on the Generic Cadd web site, but the link appears to have been removed in mid-2009.

    At first using 2D Generic CADD and later, following its release in the late 1980s, Generic 3DD, my students and I began to explore how we could learn through modeling theatre buildings. Our hypothesis was that creating a computer model required much of the analytical process that would have been required to build the original building. This process is detailed in "A Single Vanishing Point Perspective: 1979 - 1998.", and embodied in the Chestnut Street Theatre Project.

    It was during a seminar on the theatres of the Classical world that David Shulz began construction of the computer model of the Acropolis at Pergamon.

    The 1885 German site plan was developed with a topographic interval of five meters. In the computer

model, Shulz placed the topographic lines at each elevation on a separate layer of the drawing. Once all site plan data had been captured through the use of a digitizing tablet, each layer was extruded to a height of five meters, resulting in the model you see here.

Since the 3D drawing contained all the information relevant to the site it was possible to generate numerous views without having to redraw each. Thus, in a primative manner, the viewer is able to to a "walk around" of the entire acropolis, and to examine the theatre in some detail.

The inability to resolve the image beyond 640x480 pixels caused gaps to appear in steep areas of the site, gaps which show up in the drawing as dark gray areas. Color in the original drawing was achieved through dithering, further degrading the resolution. In the present version I have removed the dithering, giving each drawing a solid appearance. Otherwise the drawings are unchanged.

In addition to lessons learned in regard to working with 3D CADD, developing the model of the acropolis and theatre site at Pergamon led to a clearer understanding of the relationship between urban evolution and site topography in the ancient world. This work was carried on the following year with a similar exploration of the theatre site at Corinth.


Revised 7/04/09