Researchers: Thomas Tucker, Todd Ogle, David Hicks, and Huy Ngo
The 16 Squares Project works to develop an online resource and on-site augmented reality and virtual reality experience of the original 16 Squares of Blacksburg, Virginia. Since Blacksburg was chartered by the Virginia Legislature in 1798, it has had over two centuries of development. The original Town of Blacksburg was laid out in a grid, on land that was donated by William Black, for whom the town is named. Five streets running northeast to southwest cross five other streets running northwest to southeast. Each square or block was then divided into four equal lots, creating a total of 64 building lots in the original town layout. This plan created the 16 Squares that we refer to today. This provides a unique opportunity to capture the dynamics of change and place across time by employing such technologies as virtual and augmented reality. By creating a multilayered and sophisticated program, not only does this provide a factual history of this town but also an educational treasure about the successes and challenges of civic life capturing the extensive emotions that people experienced as they lived at various times. A team of students took modern photos of the Blacksburg 16 Squares buildings and modeled and texturized all 96 buildings in 3D. The team has acquired terrain data from a quadcopter, capturing images and creating 3D data from photogrammetry. Collaborators include Thomas Tucker, visual arts faculty member and Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) Fellow; Thomas M. Sherman, emeritus teaching and learning faculty member; Todd Ogle, senior associate director of applied research and planning and ICAT Fellow; David Hicks, history and social science faculty member; and David Klein, history faculty member. This project is supported by an ICAT SEAD Grant.