Sketchup Book for Everyone

HeadShotDaniel Tal is a registered landscape architect and member of ASLA with over 10 years experience and has recently written a book on Sketchup, the easy to use 3D modeling program that has given students and design firms an affordable way to produce 3D renderings for projects. Daniel has been using Sketchup since the early days and consulted with the developers of Sketchup in 2004. We caught up with Daniel and asked him about his newly published book.

WLA:When or What was the ‘light bulb’ moment for writing the book?

DANIEL: First and foremost, I wrote a book about SketchUp because I love using the program. It borders on obsession. It has imbued my work with tremendous satisfaction. I use SketchUp with process in mind and it neatly fits into design flow.

By 2007, I’d been practicing landscape architecture for about 10 years and had actively been using SketchUp for 5.  I noticed that many people use SketchUp sort of randomly; they do not apply a process to how they build models or how they fit SketchUp into the design process

I had been using SketchUp and AutoCAD in tandem since day one.  Again, it is all about process; making the two platforms work seamlessly. The integration between the two allows the creation of detailed models lighting fast; in many cases it’s possible to generate a model from a CAD plan in under an hour. I am not talking about a basic spatial model, but one that is fully articulated to represent a completed design.

So, between wanting to relate process and ways to create conceptual grading and integrate AutoCAD, I felt like I had enough material to teach and share.

WLA: How long was the process of writing the book?

DANIEL: I wrote the book in two drafts. I started the first draft in February of 2008 and completed it in June, 2008. I reviewed what I had and I was not satisfied with the flow or cohesion. So, in July 2008, I took a 3 month sabbatical from work and I hashed out the bulk of the book. I completed the final draft on December 24th. From January through June of 2009, Wiley edited and compiled the book into its present form. The whole process took roughly 18 months.

WLA: SketchUp is a relatively new tool for landscape architects and other built environment professionals, how do you think it assists designers during the design process?

DANIEL: SketchUp is a unique tool. Because it’s a real time render, meaning you can see what a model looks like as its being pieced together, it allows designers to view and analyze spatial relationships instantaneously. In real world terms, it allows designers to catch possible issues early on in the design process.

SketchUp is fast. Because of its speed, it fits into the design process. I start modeling a site during concept phase. This gives the designers, the client and consultants a better understanding of what the project looks and feels like.

WLA: Currently SketchUp is used by firms for testing design and other firms are using it for presentation, what are the benefits of using SketchUp for presentation?

DANIEL: Photo-realistic rendering is becoming the norm for design presentation. At RNL, I worked with some very talented render artists. They use 3D max, Revit, Viz and many other 3D rendering programs to represent projects. They are pushing the limits and their work is outstanding.

Many firms do not have access to this technology and while it’s becoming more mainstream, it requires motivated and highly trained individuals to advance these technologies within a firm.  SketchUp is not a specialized program. If someone has the desire to learn they can do so, with little cost and a decent time investment. That is one of the purposes of the book.

The other difference is the number of views and the type of representations that can be created with photo-real rendering vs. SketchUp. It can take hours and days to generate multiple photorealistic images and the resources to create animations is time consuming and large.

Simply, SketchUp allows users to create multiple views and animations of a project in hours. These are not photorealistic renderings, but with enough practice and know how, you can generate some highly expressive images and animations with Sketch Up.

WLA: Who is the audience for your book?

DANIEL: Wiley originally wanted me to write an advanced SketchUp manual exclusively for landscape architects. The publisher encouraged me to send the draft manuscript out for review by various professionals. It became clear that designers and educators wanted a more holistic book that went beyond landscape architecture and met the needs of designers and students with varied levels of experience.

The most important thing to note about the book is it focuses not just on how tools work, but also explains what to do with the tools to meet specific goals. In Part 1, the spotlight is on process and using the right methods and process to setup models from the start. Part 2 is a series of exercises leading to a goal–the creation of a detailed, effectively articulated 3D model. You start by building a site plan and modeling detailed elements (lights, benches, rails, etc.). Next, you model 3 buildings.  Last, you compile the site plan, elements and buildings into a single model. What I am showing people is a method that can be applied to almost any project type; how to start, generate detail and end with expressive design images. The book also goes into depth about how to use the Sandbox tools to generate conceptual grading, complex organic forms and architecture. And, like I stated earlier, there is a whole section on integrating AutoCAD with SketchUp.

The book is tailored to multiple audiences. I believe the book is useful to beginners and advanced users, including architects, landscape architects or hobbyists. It’s also useful as a guide/textbook for educators and students in the design professions.

For more information on Daniel’s book, SketchUp for Site Design: A Guide to Modeling Site Plans, Terrain and Architecture, visit www.daniel-tal.com

Center

Plaza

Dunes

Shrub-planting

IMAGES: DANIEL TAL


DISCLOSURE: Daniel Tal was an advertiser with World Landscape Architect
This interview was not paid for or a condition of advertising.

Las Vegas Wetlands Park grows by another 112 acres

Last Friday saw the dedication of 112 acres to further expand the current 2,900-acre Las Vegas Wetlands Park. The land was acquired along the east end of Tropicana Road through funding acquired from fining developers for disturbing environmentally sensitive areas.

Currently the price tag for works at the Wetland Park has reach $80 million with a further $15 million needed for future projects such as a nature center with interactive displays.

SOURCE: Digital Journal

Taipei to hold Internation Flora Expo in 2010

Taipei, Taiwan will hold a International Gardening and Horticulture Expo from the Nov. 6, 2010 to April 25, 2011. The expo will showcase the indigenous vegetation and be a unique fusion of horticulture and technology. The Expo site is 91.8 hectacres with 14 pavillions and four areas featuring different themes. With a budget for the Expo is The NT$3.53 billion it is expected to help Taiwan’s horticulture sector boost its production value by 23 percent.

SOURCE: Taiwan News Online – Taipei hopes to impress with 2010 Taipei International Flora Expo -

Cross programming Urban Park in Singapore

Perspective of Urban Park at City Square Mall

Perspective of Urban Park at City Square Mall (Ong & Ong)

Ong & Ong have proposed a new Urban Park design for City Square Mall at 17th Kitchener Road, Singapore. The site is  approximately 0.45 ha with few facilities besides the entry to the Mass Rapid Transit Station. Ong & Ong‘s design incorporates several programs including a Butterfly Garden, Sculptures, a Living Maze for children, an interactive fountain park and an education wall about recycling.

The proposal of developing this open space into an urban park will drastically change the appearance and usage of this open space. The development of the urban park and the mall will complement one another. The urban park will be like a green carpet lay out in front of the mall to welcome its visitors.

The urban park when it is completed, will serve as a green lung for the neighborhood. Conceived as a series of spaces connected by footpaths, these spaces are meant to encourage learning about ecology and the natural environment in an urban oasis that is both fun and didactic for young and old. As they play and walk through the landscape, they learn.

Ong & Ong’s project increases its environment friendly status by introducing the application of a myriad of ecologically-friendly elements including Vertical Green Walls, an Eco-Roof to showcase green technologies and  materials such as  “Eco-tiles” – a composite recyclable product that is manufacture with sustainable resource, and recycled timber. The designers have also retained 2 large existing trees and proposed to plant native species in the design.

Perspective of Urban Park at City Square Mall

Perspective of Urban Park at City Square Mall (Ong & Ong)

Plan with Roof - Urban Park at City Square Mall (Ong & Ong)

Plan with Roof - Urban Park at City Square Mall (Ong & Ong)

Plan at Street Level - Urban Park at City Square Mall (Ong  & Ong)

Plan at Street Level - Urban Park at City Square Mall (Ong & Ong)

Image Credit: Ong & Ong Pte Ltd

Approximate budget in SGD: $ 400,000,000.00
Project design start year: 2005
Project status currently: Under Construction
Expected project construction completion: 30 November 2009
Landscape Architects – Ong & Ong Pte Ltd

Expo Wetland to be used for toilet flushing

A wetland park will be built by the City of Chengdu on the 2010 Expo site in Shanghai that will use soil and vegetation to purify site rain water that will be used toilet flushing. The wetland park wil be 2,680 square metres on the Puxi section (north)  and also include underground water tanks as apart of the system. The wetland will consist of 16 terraced ponds planted with 60 plant and tree species over 1,200 square metres of the wetland. Water from the wetland will also be used in a fun ‘piano keyboard’ that will spray water when people step on the keys.

SOURCE: Shanghai Daily

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