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Modeling California’s Carnegie Libraries

While looking at posts in the SketchUp Help Forum, I found a thread that really grabbed my attention. An enthusiastic person nicknamed “jaxcoffee” proudly declared his intention to build 3D models of the Carnegie Libraries in California. I later learned that Jax (his 3D Warehouse username) has a deep passion for these great historical buildings and hopes to digitally preserve these structures using Google SketchUp and Google Earth. His scope isn’t limited to California. Hopefully, with a little help from others, he’d like to model every library across the United States.

Oakland Main Library modeled by Jax

I had the opportunity to interview Jax via email, and I’d like to share this conversation with you:

How would you describe your project?
Our project, 3D Carnegie, could best be described as a "Test Case." Being that at the very core of the idea is a learning curve on refining how one, from a remote location gathers enough information, or has a method to get others to gather information to model accurately enough for that model to be accepted as part of the Historic Record.

What are the goals for your project?
First goal is to add enough value to the idea and concept to get the attention of the historic community, and have the 3D modeling technology accepted as viable historical information. Secondly, would be to find funding streams for R&D, and develop this into a true working, acceptable program that will make our historic record more interactive and information rich. Thirdly, in pertaining to the Carnegie Collection, some form of graphical 3D representation of present and existing Carnegie library buildings, before they are all gone.

What tools are you using to create the models?
Google SketchUp, Google Earth, gathering and communicating with modelers from all over the world with a Google Group page. We have a Google site page up showing some graphics and actual photos of the completed models. Information and presentation of the project is where we really need some help, not to mention more active modelers.

How would you define "success" for your project?
There are just so many areas where this type of program could be applied:

  • Bringing awareness to a restoration project for a community that needs to restore their old Carnegie, or any other historic building.
  • Promoting one's downtown area by modeling their historic buildings.
  • Creating an interactive, information rich historic record for research, or for future generations to enjoy.

If any one of the ideas mentioned above were to be realized, or at least bring more awareness of the use of 3D modeling for this type of application I would call our project successful. I want to see them all implemented!

If I were to nail it down to one main thought, I would say this: 3D modeling with SketchUp and Google Earth can allow more people to be a part of adding value to the historic record of our nation, at a time when funding for these types of programs are in jeopardy.

If you’re interested in helping Jax with this project, feel free to visit his collection on the 3D Warehouse and click “Contact the owner” below the description.

About the Author

Tommy manages the SketchUp Knowledge team, which focuses on helping, connecting, and training SketchUp users. He’s been with the team since 2005 and attended CU Boulder for Film Studies and Computer Science.

Profile Photo of Tommy Acierno