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FAU School of Urban and Regional Planning Creates 3-D Image Accepted by Google Earth

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (November 16, 2010) –  Florida Atlantic University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning within the College for Design and Social Inquiry recently created a three-dimensional model of the Higher Education Complex building of its Fort Lauderdale campus that was accepted and integrated into the Google Earth/Google Maps database. 

Created by Florentina Hutt, a graduate research assistant in the School’s Visual Planning Technology (VPT) Lab, the photorealistic depiction combines the technology of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with 3-D computer graphics.

GIS is a computer modeling technology that stores, depicts, integrates and analyzes geographic information.  It is at the heart of the familiar map-like interface of Google Map and Google Earth. Using a 3-D rendering program, Hutt created the basic building structure and then applied numerous photos taken from many angles to the façade of the building, resulting in a realistic rendition of the building from the ground up before sending it to Google. “You have to meet high standards to be accepted into Google Earth/Google Maps.  It’s a challenge to meet the standards that require you to create a very accurate object,” said Hutt.

Hutt’s work is also a part of a larger GIS pilot project initiated by the VPT Lab.  When completed, the project will be a 3-D depiction of not only the Higher Education Complex, but also nearby buildings, streets, parking lots, green areas and foliage, and sidewalks, among other things on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard.

Each 3-D object will contain a table of information that can be queried and cross-referenced. The amount of information that can be added to each object also is infinite, from its infrastructure to flood zones to types of vegetation and beyond. The VPT Lab hopes that the 3-D GIS pilot project will be expanded upon to aid municipal officials and others in making decisions about land use and development, infrastructure, emergency management and security.

“When planners and developers present plans displayed with traditional 2-D imagery to the government officials, they often can’t show the complete visual reality of their project,” said Asher Soldwedel, VPT lab coordinator and lead on the pilot project. “3-D GIS can show the real impact of a development and let people see what it will be like to walk down the street.”

To see the building model, visit

For more information, contact Asher Soldwedel at 954-762-5119 or


About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit

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