3-D Campus Model for Google Earth Created By UMass Amherst Students and Faculty

AMHERST, Mass. – Students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have created 3-D computer models of most of the buildings on campus for Google Earth, a popular computer terrain viewer that provides users with a virtual view of the Earth compiled from satellite images, aerial photography and global information systems data. Ultimately this 3-D model could be used for visualization of new campus planning, visitor orientation, dorm previews for incoming students and more.

As part of a class project, the students modeled approximately 100 buildings in Google SketchUp, a program that allows users to easily create the 3-D shape of a building. Digital photographs of the real structures were taken and applied to the visible faces of the buildings as textures. The final step was to “georeference” the buildings by positioning them according to latitude, longitude and altitude before exporting the models to Google Earth.

UMass Amherst’s facilities and campus planning department supplied CAD data of building footprints as well as SketchUp models of buildings under construction, such as the new Integrated Sciences Building and Central Heating Plant.

The complete set of buildings can be viewed and downloaded to Google Earth through Google’s 3D Warehouse (http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/) and some of the models are available in Google Earth through the “3-D Buildings” layer. Models can be viewed on Windows, Macintosh and Linux-based computers.

The project was started as a class assignment by students enrolled in “Advanced Topics in Computer Aided Design” and was continued by a group of students in the spring semester under the guidance of Alexander Schreyer, a faculty member in the Building Materials and Wood Technology and Architecture and Design programs. Student efforts were led by Guy R. O’Donnell, Jason P. Miller and Diane M. Verdi and participants hailed from several departments, including landscape architecture and regional planning, building materials and wood technology, and architecture and design.


High-resolution images are available upon request.