January 2005

***Note: This layer is available for historical purposes. A new statewide layer of Building Structures (2-D, from 2011-2012 Ortho Imagery) was released in December 2012.

Download this layer: ESRI Shapefile
(includes full metadata document in XML and text formats)


This dataset consists of 2-dimensional footprints of the buildings in the metropolitan Boston area, based on tiles in the Orthophoto Index. This data set was collected using 3Di's Digital Airborne Topographic Imaging System II (DATIS II). The data were collected for MassGIS to be used for a variety of purposes, including emergency response planning, hydrologic/floodplain modeling, assessment of natural hazards, and impervious surface delineation.

This dataset was one of several obtained as part of a 2002 project to obtain data using LiDAR (an acronym for LIght Detection And Ranging). LiDAR uses the same principle as RADAR. The lidar instrument transmits light out to a target. The transmitted light interacts with and is changed by the target. Some of this light is reflected/scattered back to the instrument where it is analyzed. For more information on lidar, see the USGS Center for LIDAR Information Coordination and Knowledge (CLICK), Fugro EarthData, Inc.'s LiDAR Mapping Fact Sheet, and the University of Idaho's Introduction to Discrete Return LiDAR.

Building footprint data from this project are available for parts of 33 cities and towns in the metropolitan Boston area. See the project area index map at right for details.

In ArcSDE the layer is named BUILDINGFP_POLY.


3Di Technologies, Inc. (now Spectrum Mapping LLC) processed the data. Last return lidar digital elevation model data were imported into AutoCad and building outlines were manually extracted. MassGIS orthophotos were used for reference to resolve ambiguities. AutoCad files were converted to ESRI Shapefile format and delivered to MassGIS.


Polygons in this layer do not contain any attributes.


MassGIS maintains this layer. No updates are planned. However, MassGIS now distributes statewide 2-D Building Structures based on roofprints interpreted from 2011-2012 ortho imagery.

Last Updated 12/7/2012