Students: Various from BMATWT 497C plus students from Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP) as well as Architecture+Design (A+D)
Faculty Sponsor: Alexander Schreyer
Project Type: Class & extracurricular
Year: 2007-2010

A group of students from the UMass programs of Building Materials and Wood Technology (BMATWT), Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP) as well as Architecture+Design (A+D) under the supervision of Alexander Schreyer, Faculty member in Building Materials and Wood Technology and Architecture+Design, have created a 3-dimensional model of almost all buildings on the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts. In total, approximately 100 buildings were modeled in Google SketchUp, a freely available 3-dimensional CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software and then exported to Google Earth, a free GIS-based (Geographic Information System) terrain-viewer. The campus buildings will be available in Google Earth through the “3D Buildings” layer later this summer. This 3D-model can be used for visualization of new campus planning, visitor orientation, “dorm previews” for incoming students and much more.The process of creating the digital models involved first the drawing of the volumetric shape of all buildings in the 3D CAD software. Then, all sides of the real buildings were photographed and the photos were applied to all visible building faces as textures. In a further step, each building was “georeferenced” in the CAD-software and positioned at the exact location and altitude. Finally, each building was separately exported to Google Earth and saved in its KML file format. Using the freely downloadable Google Earth software, the 3D-model can be viewed on Windows-, Macintosh- and Linux-based computers.

This project was started by all students enrolled in BMATWT 497C “Advanced Topics in CAD” as part of an assignment and was then continued by a group of students (with the main participants Jason P. Miller (LARP), Guy R. O’Donnell (BMATWT) and Diane M. Verdi (A+D)). Additional support came from Facilities and Campus Planning, which supplied CAD data of building footprints as well as SketchUp models of buildings under construction such as the new Integrated Sciences Building and the Steam Plant.

It was attempted to complete all UMass buildings, but time constraints and the large number of buildings on UMass’ property limited the feasibility of this target, which had to be attained in the timeframe of the spring semester. This effort is this university’s entry into Google’s “Model your Campus” competition, which if successful will award the participants an all-expenses-paid trip to Google in Mountain View, California.


  • In Google Earth, browse to UMass (type “01003” into the search bar) and make sure the “3D Buildings” Layer is turned on.
  • All models are individually available in Google’s 3D Warehouse.

The following images illustrate the results: