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Thread: Sketchup for municipal planners

  1. #1
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Sketchup for municipal planners

    Forgive me if this has been touched on elsewhere, but after searching the thread archive I came up empty. Recently I have been looking at opportunities to brush up on some of my technical skills.

    Is knowledge of Sketchup any benefit to public sector planners? I understand the benefit to site planners but not so sure about someone who works in the public sector. Any planners here use Sketchup? If so, in what capacity? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by rcgplanner View post
    Forgive me if this has been touched on elsewhere, but after searching the thread archive I came up empty. Recently I have been looking at opportunities to brush up on some of my technical skills.

    Is knowledge of Sketchup any benefit to public sector planners? I understand the benefit to site planners but not so sure about someone who works in the public sector. Any planners here use Sketchup? If so, in what capacity? Thanks!
    In my last place we wanted to do some subarea plans for around our interchanges. There were viewshed restrictions and it took us a while to get up to speed to see whether the FARs allowed blocked views, and when they did where the viewplane was blocked. Massing & bulk. Public visualizations.

    IOW: yes, we saw the benefit.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    For simple mass analysis it is a great tool. It helps put development into context.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    We were just discussing Sketch-up today in staff and decided that although it's fast an easy to model, the good, old fashioned foam core models are so much more effective to help public officials figure out scale and mass. For one thing, only the professionals can manipulate Sketch-up...whereas a form core model can be picked up and moved by anyone.

    What ever happened to good old foam core models?? Why don't we use them more in the planning profession?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by southsideamy View post
    We were just discussing Sketch-up today in staff and decided that although it's fast an easy to model, the good, old fashioned foam core models are so much more effective to help public officials figure out scale and mass. For one thing, only the professionals can manipulate Sketch-up...whereas a form core model can be picked up and moved by anyone.

    What ever happened to good old foam core models?? Why don't we use them more in the planning profession?
    sketchup is faster and easier =p you can also make simple fly-bys of sites / buildings and drop them on the internet along with quick images. if you really get into it you can export to any number of 3rd party rendering packages and get a photo-real image as well. doing that with a foam model takes a long time.

    we use it quite a bit here for conceptual work for some of our clients. the only thing that would make it all easier would be to switch from sketchup / autocad to revit - but that is an entirely different argument.

    in short - sketchup rocks.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cellophane View post
    the only thing that would make it all easier would be to switch from sketchup / autocad to revit - but that is an entirely different argument.

    in short - sketchup rocks.
    Both programs import/export to sketch up. It is a no-brainer.

    I find it a handy tool for massing exercises dealing with slop/viewshed as well as shading to ensure that bulk doesn't block a building's ability to capture solar energy through PV panels. Yea, California building codes are wacko like that.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Both programs import/export to sketch up. It is a no-brainer.
    i know. the issue is getting the office to revit for our CD's instead of cad. modeling in sketchup then trying to modify plans in CAD is inefficient and a royal PITA...

  8. #8
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Thank you for all the responses. Any other municipal planners use Sketchup? Is the free version adequate? How steep is the learning curve? I have played around with the program a few times and it seemed fairly simple to use.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    For non-design/ conceptual work, the free version is usually pretty reliable, and the learning curve is very easy. It gets more complicated when doing alot of complex 3D modeling which I use more on the site design end for projects.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    I have been training my GIS professionals on Sketch-up so that they can become proficient with the software and assist the planners with displays at public meetings (long range conceptual stuff). This has been very effective.
    Satellite City Enabler

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I like sketch up. we've used it several times for public presentations and people were generally impressed.

  12. #12
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    We've been using it with our masterplan for a proposed TOD. We use it simply for massing and conceptual view corridors. It's been working quite well for our needs, because we're not doing any site designing/engineering for an actual development plan.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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  13. #13
    i've used it several times in class projects. We did a project where we studied an avenue on the north side of Chicago, and we used sketchup to visually show how we would like the intersections and roads to be aligned... I think giving people an isometric view, and a couple "street view" images to show what it would be like to walk through the new streetscape... also useful for showing massing of buildings (even though we just used large white blocks most of the time)

    in my current job I used it once because our office doesn't have GIS, and I needed to make a map of a city showing housing conditions... I imported a CAD file into Sketchup and colored the building footprints in the way we needed... my boss wasn't savvy enough to understand or know that the view was distorted and not to scale, but with the map he was looking for it didn't really matter.

    I think its a great tool... ESPECIALLY if you are dealing with urban redevelopment and places where massing is important (well, it should be important everywhere, but sketchup probably isn't as helpful in a new green-field suburban style development

  14. #14
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by FightingIllini07 View post
    I think its a great tool... ESPECIALLY if you are dealing with urban redevelopment and places where massing is important (well, it should be important everywhere, but sketchup probably isn't as helpful in a new green-field suburban style development
    it could be pretty useful to make a case against said developments

    semi-unrelated - when i was in school we did a project addressing the university town-gown relationship which for the purposes of our studio was an area 2-3 blocks wide by about 15 blocks long. we made a wood model of the whole thing that ended up being about 25 feet long. it took the entire studio to set it all up, but it looked pretty awesome.

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