Downtown South, Orlando, Florida - A "Main Streets in 3D" Community

Downtown South Orlando FloridaDowntown South, Orlando, Florida, (91-square blocks, 454 buildings, pop. 10,000 in the City of Orlando, pop. 260,000) was selected as one of the 2010 Main Streets in 3D project communities. This page will track the community's progress as it models its downtown using Google SketchUp and Earth and shows how this 3D visualization tool can be used for revitalization and presservation.

Downtown South has been facing challenges from sprawl and a long-standing focus on automobiles rather than pedestrians. The community just completed a community vision plan and wishes to model the business district to get public support and educate residents on what Main Street can be in the future. Realizing that there are problematic blocks within the district, they will use Google SketchUp to virtually redevelop entire areas and envision ways to make the district more pedestrian friendly. The technology will also help the Main Street program make complementary urban design recommendation to building owners. Specifically, the group plans on identifying the best available public space for a new community market and a new fall festival. Also, with a recently approved commuter rail transit project, Downtown South will use Google SketchUp to help with the restoration of the district's historic rail station. What's more, the group has recruited volunteers from neighboring Main Street districts and plans on sharing their training and knowledge with their peers in Orlando.

October 2010 Update

Downtown South had its Google Sketch-Up training on September 11th. The night before the training, Downtown South Executive Director Holly Vanture, led SketchUp expert Jodi Lane on a downtown tour and took photos of the buildings together. They met again the next day at Valencia Community College, which provided its brand new computer lab for the training venue.  The college also agreed to let the volunteers meet there again on their SketchUp modeling days.

Among the 21 volunteers at the training were city employees, college professors, architects, designers, artists, and photographers. They also hosted two representatives a sister Main Street programs in another Orlando neighborhood. Igloo Studios had provided some “homework” items for volunteers to spend about seven hours before the on-site training watching online tutorials on the basics of SketchUp. However, only some of the volunteers were able to do this, says Holly. “I think three- or four-hours of homework might have been more realistic for volunteers.”

The volunteer teams started their work project by conducting an inventory on Google Earth to determine which buildings were already completely modeled, which were partially done, and which were “flat as a pancake.” The groups met again after the training to get assignments. They had planned to begin the 3D modeling at two different intersections in town about a half mile apart and then work toward the middle.  “But, we learned from Jodi that we would probably be able to model even more of the community,” says Holly.

They set up seven volunteer teams of two, creating pairings of volunteers who feel very comfortable with Sketch-Up with volunteers who need some mentoring.  Each team will be responsible for a block of buildings and are doing the photography, measuring, and 3D modeling for at least one building in the block over a two-week period of time.

A cool side project: The Downtown South Design Committee is working with a business owner at a major intersection to redesign the landscaping at the corner.  Two of the committee members went through the Sketch-Up training and are going to make a 3D model on Google Earth of the project as will use Sketch-Up to recommend changes.