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This chapter is from the book

Creating an Easy-Bake Site Model

Environmental factors such as site location and context are important pieces of information that need to be taken into consideration for most architectural design projects. The Google "geo-trifecta" of SketchUp, Google Earth, and the 3D Warehouse is a powerful combo for all sorts of location-specific applications. SketchUp users are actively creating models for inclusion in Google Earth's 3D Buildings layer, and the 3D Warehouse is the portal through which those 3D Buildings are submitted. That's great news for designers, because it means that you can import any of those same geo-located models from the Warehouse directly into SketchUp to create a 3D model of your site that includes the surrounding buildings.

To create a site model:

  1. Start up Google Earth and locate your project site (in this case, a parking lot adjacent to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, CA).
  2. Turn on the Terrain layer and the 3D Buildings layer (Figure 4.16) to find out whether any of the buildings from that site have already been modeled.
    Figure 4.16

    Figure 4.16 Turn on the Terrain and 3D Buildings layers.

    © 2009 Google, Map Data © 2009 Tele Atlas

  3. Reset the view in Google Earth (the shortcut is R) so that the north angle is pointing up toward the top of the screen and you are looking straight down at the site.
  4. Turn off the 3D Buildings layer (but keep the Terrain layer turned on) so you can see the satellite imagery in Google Earth (Figure 4.17).
    Figure 4.17

    Figure 4.17 Looking down at the site without 3D Buildings.

    © 2009 Google, Map Data © 2009 Tele Atlas

  5. Switch over to SketchUp and import the satellite imagery of the location (Figure 4.18) using the Get Current View command view-button.jpg in the Google toolbar (View > Toolbars > Google).
    Figure 4.18

    Figure 4.18 Use the Get Current View command to import the imagery.

    © 2009 Google, Map Data © 2009 Tele Atlas

  6. Click the Toggle Terrain command terrain-command-icon.jpg to view the terrain in 3D.
  7. Use the Get Models command get-model-icon.jpg to search the 3D Warehouse and import specific buildings (such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, as shown in Figure 4.19a).
    Figure 4.19a

    Figure 4.19a Use the Get Models command to find and import specific models.

  8. Click the link to download the model, and then click OK to load the model directly into your project.
  9. You'll then see a pop-up window indicating that the location of your model building has a specific location associated with it that may be far away from the location of your model. Choose the option to "Preserve location" (Figure 4.19b) and the building will automatically land on the site in the model where it belongs (Figure 4.19c).
Figure 4.19b

Figure 4.19b If you choose the Preserve Location option SketchUp will automatically position the imported building for you, based on the model's embedded Geo-Reference data.

Figure 4.19c

Figure 4.19c A site model created by importing from Google Earth and the 3D Warehouse.

© 2009 Google, Map Data © 2009 Tele Atlas

Repeat steps 7–9 to import additional buildings. Remember that the advanced search modifier "near:" can help locate buildings nearby. For example, you could use the address for the Disney Concert Hall as the epicenter to search for additional buildings: "near:111 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, 90012."

Downloading Nearby Models

Searching the 3D Warehouse for familiar buildings or for buildings near a particular address are both ways to use the Get Models command to create site models. You can also search for models near a specific site using the Component Browser window.

  1. Open the Component Browser window and choose Nearby Models from the Navigation drop-down menu (see Figure 4.20).

    SketchUp automatically searches the 3D Warehouse for models whose geographic coordinates match the location of the site you have imported from Google Earth. Any available nearby buildings will appear in the Component Browser window.

    Figure 4.20

    Figure 4.20 Choose Nearby Models from the Component Browser navigation drop-down menu.

  2. Click the model preview icon to begin downloading the model (in this case, the "Grand Tower" building located just down the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall (see Figure 4.21).
    Figure 4.21

    Figure 4.21 Clicking the model preview icon initiates the download process.

  3. When prompted, choose to preserve the downloaded model's location. SketchUp will automatically download and position the model relative to the satellite image that was imported from Google Earth (see Figure 4.22).
    Figure 4.22

    Figure 4.22 The Grand Tower is just down the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

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