Blog Post: 3D Architecture project

For my architecture project I worked off a Sanborn map of Richmond from the 1880s. 

From reading the blog posts of others I can see that most chose to do one or a few buildings in great detail, but when I started to work on this project, I decided to do all the buildings on the Sanborn map, if in less detail. 



The section of Richmond I’ve build borders the James River and consists mainly of industrial buildings: a pair of tobacco warehouses (the large brick buildings on the left side of the main street), a flouring mill along the waterfront, and a corn mill to the right and just off screen. 

Also in the map was a pair of water basins with a canal running underneath the street. I could not figure out how to make it show underground, so instead I raised the street by the canal to show the design.


I was having a lot of trouble implementing windows and doors, for reasons I could not discover why. As it turned out, I had to first apply them to the middle of the building, resize them, and then put them in the right place. Why it won’t let me put them in the right place and then resize them is a mystery, but there you go.

Issues with the details notwithstanding, this was a very fun challenge for me, and it definitely made me more comfortable with making some basic buildings in Sketchup. Though I wish I had more accessory options available for different time periods, and I wish Sketchup could make non-rectangular buildings with less headache, in the end I feel like I learned a lot and had a fair amount of fun doing so!


4 thoughts on “Blog Post: 3D Architecture project

  1. I think this is a good example of how even a modest masterly of Sketch Up can be useful; although you did not include a lot of detail on individual buildings you did a great job replicating the layout and skyline of Richmond. Your model is useful and conveys information; that’s the main purpose of this exercise.

  2. I agree with Kirk in that your reconstruction conveys great information despite the lack of detail (which, honestly, there are tons of details in it!). I also had the same issues with windows and doors, which was incredibly frustrating, but I eventually found a work around, as well. Great job!

  3. Your Sketch-up model looks great. I do share your frustration in trying to create non-rectangular buildings. I, unfortunately, had to download an older version of the program since the newest version is not compatible with my computer. I found the older version much more difficult to use and it strengthens the problem of creating non-rectangular buildings.

    While some aspects of Sketch-up are great and very easy to use, the program definitely has its drawbacks as you mentioned with the sizing of the windows.

  4. Very nicely done. I had some trouble with the doors and windows of some of the building that I did as well. Eventually I just cut out a rectangle and left it at that. I like how your model captures that scale and sense of space that was Richmond during the time. Well done.

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