Nothing Sketchy About Google SketchUp & Their 'Model Your Town Competition'

Google has announced the finalists of their Model Your Town Competition that challenged people throughout the world to create a replica of their city in 3D. The premise was built on acknowledging communities and their architecture on an international stage. The Google Sketchup product coupled with Google Earth allowed for 3D modeling of every building and skyscraper that makes up a city or town's landscape. With all entries tallied, it's now time for the public to weigh in and select the winner.

Commencing in December, 2009, voting officially ends May 1. The five town finalists to reach the final round represent 3 continents.

· Barranco (Lima, Peru)
· Braunschweig (Niedersachsen, Germany)
· Donostia - San Sebastián (Gipuzkoa, Spain)
· Dursley (Gloucestershire, United Kingdom)
· West Palm Beach (Florida, United States)

Here's a vid that provides an overview of the 5 finalists in the Google Model Your Town Competition.

Important to note that all the towns, except one, have been modeled by just one person and not by a team which was Google's original intent. Even so, the results are most impressive as this 3D content gets added to Google Earth and these destinations enter into a spotlight that will help their economy via tourism and future development.

West Palm Beach is a unique finalist. Not necessarily a major metropolis -but under the developing hands of a 2007 graduate of The King's Academy it's been literally put on the world map.

Chris SardinasChris SardinasChris Sardinas, a 20-year-old student at the University of Central Florida and a Palm Beach County native has experimented with Google SketchUp for three years. He spent the last eight months modeling everything from The Trump Plaza to the Breakers in Palm Beach, as well as smaller local businesses throughout the town.

This video details the 3D model of West Palm Beach, Florida, USA that earned Sardinas' an opportunity to enter the finalist round.

With public voting ending soon, If Sardinas’ model of West Palm Beach wins the competition, the Palm Beach County School District will receive $10,000. If you would like to vote for West Palm Beach, go to their Web site.

For those interested in the Google SketchUp products, here's a breakdown on pricing and features:

  • Price/availability: The standard SketchUp download is free for home/personal use; SketchUp Pro 7, with advanced import/export, presentation, and printing tools, among others, is $495.
  • Strengths: It's got many of the same 3D and solid object design powers as the commercial software used by engineers, but the interface is relatively easier to learn and get around. If you enjoy mousing your way though Google Earth, you can probably learn SketchUp's controls without too much pain.
  • Weaknesses: Unless you're a perfectionist willing to take pictures of your paint, fabrics, and other designs and colors, SketchUp's visual cues are going to be a rough draft. Even if you do have digital pictures galore as a reference, figuring out how to stretch them across SketchUp's surfaces isn't exactly intuitive.
  • Best suited for: Physical projects needing a fairly accurate 3D view, and where color/design play a second-hand role.
Let us know if any of our readers are SketchUp fans? Or would-be architects? Provide us with your feedback and any anecdotes regarding your individual experiences, like the case of the architecture responsible for the 'Leaning Tower of Pisa!'