August 30, 2017

By Rae DeVito

The City of Chicago, a global architecture capital with a skyline among the globe’s tallest and most dense, is publicly showcased in a massive 3D model — the largest architectural model known to be created exclusively with stereolithography.

The 320-square foot physical 3D model found a home in the atrium of the Railway Exchange Building, home to the Chicago Architecture Foundation and a launch pad for many of the organization’s 85 tours. At a scale of one inch equaling 50 feet, the model includes 400 city blocks and more than 1,000 buildings.

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City of Chicago 3D model built with CyberCity 3D buildings/Photo Courtesy of CAF and CMEW

Similar physical 3D models in Beijing and Shanghai inspired the Chicago Achitecture Foundation (CAF) to pursue building this huge model featuring the city’s famous Loop and city core. …

By default, CyberCity 3D’s patented modeling technology produces gray 3D models. And while most applications utilize our gray 3D for the intended uses, CyberCity 3D can apply textures to the roof and facades of a model using various photography sources, each offering a different resolution and level of detail. This document highlights each level, and briefly describes different textures are applied to the model.

Level 1: Auto-Texture

CyberCity 3D can texture buildings using the same stereo-imagery that was used to model the geometry of the building. Quality varies depending on the resolution of the source imagery. …

In the 3D modeling world, there are very few software tools available for large-scale city models. It is HARD to build an accurate model of every single building over a wide area, and such efforts require a significant investment of time and money. CyberCity 3D solves this through patented technology and an efficient production methodology to create models relatively quickly and affordably. Of course, there are some alternative solutions, one of which employs a very powerful resource — the public. This resource, however, does have its drawbacks.

OpenStreetMap is an open-source — and more importantly, crowd-sourced — map of the world. Over 2 million users have collected, created, and curated data to be made available over the Open Database License. Inspired by other crowd-sourced databases like Wikipedia, users can register on the OpenStreetMap website and start editing the map within minutes. In addition to their popular 2D map, OpenStreetMap also offers crowd-sourced 3D building data that can be used on 3D platforms including two that we work closely with — Cesium and InfraWorks 360. …

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