One of my favorite catch phrases for Kent is “Life in 3D.” That tag line stuck with me because it seemed to reflect the fact that Kent has something for everybody; it’s not a flat, 2 dimensional place. Kent’s got depth, some variability in its landscape of people and things to do, that isn’t often found in other cities of our size. A lot of it has to do with the social history of Kent, and of course, the presence of a liberal arts University. Kent’s got this juxtaposition thing going on with spiked green-hair twenty somethings helping “blue” haired ladies across the street. That’s unmistakably Kent. This has nothing to do with today’s blog post about how Fayetteville Arkansas paid high school and university students to do a 3D virtual model for downtown redevelopment, but I like to surprise you.
Before reading any further, the first thing you need to do is check out this link to see the 3-D mashup that these students developed for redevelopment projects in downtown Fayetteville Arkansas. Then you can read the articles about the project and imagine what we could do here in Kent with our downtown, if we could combine the talented students from Kent State and Roosevelt High School.
Article from Fayetteville Newspaper
Imagine being able to look at a map of downtown Fayetteville and view 3-D images of what the buildings look like and how proposed new developments would fit in with the surroundings.
Two Greenland High School students are helping to make such maps reality. Sophomore Celi Birke of Fayetteville and junior Lorianne Gillespie are among the students working on the maps through the Community Asset Development Information Systems, a partnership between the city of Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technology.
Snow Winters, a multimedia designer for the center, supervises the two Greenland students and others working on the project. Some of the other students involved in the initiative include Stephen Reyenga, Scott Ha and Kongmeng Xiong.
They work out of the Environmental and Spatial Technologies, or EAST, lab in Ozark Hall on the UA campus. Gillespie said they get paid $ 8 per hour, which is a good salary for a teenager.
The students plat specific areas defined in the city’s Downtown Master Plan, such as the square, Dickson Street and surrounding areas.
As part of their job, Gillespie and Birke go around taking pictures of the buildings on Dickson Street and the downtown area. They use those photos and aerial images to figure the dimensions of the buildings and create a 3-D model on their computer.
The programs include technology that calculates the buildings ’ height and length, so they can make buildings to scale.
On Wednesday, for example, Gillespie was reviewing her model of the strip of bars and other establishments from Hog Haus Brewing Co. to Gypsy Bar along Dickson Street east of West Avenue.
Birke was also cropping photos of First Baptist Church at College Avenue and Dickson Street for another model.
Some editing of the photos is necessary for the computer models, Gillespie said. For instance, they take out power lines and trees in the photos and other objects not attached to the facilities.
Birke and Gillespie said they each got to know the town better as a result of their job.
“ We’ve learned a lot more about Fayetteville, ” Birke said.
The most surprising thing Birke said she learned about was all the condominium developments on Dickson Street, and how the street is becoming a popular and trendy place to live.
Also, because they deal with issues such as building height and placement, the students know more about city codes than the average high school student. Birke said she noticed Fayetteville has many regulations designed to retain aesthetics.
“ I think Fayetteville cares more about appearance than some (communities ), ” she said. “ We’ve learned a lot about the regulations. ”
During the course of their work, the EAST Lab workers have made drawings showing how planned buildings such as the Divinity project and Underwood Plaza would fit in with their surroundings on Dickson Street. They also did a simulation showing what the downtown planning area would look like if all buildings were at their maximum height allowed under current zoning regulations.
Some of their illustrations were displayed at a Ordinance Review Committee meeting on June 29.
Tim Conklin, planning and development management director for the city, said the goal is that once the students are finished, maps complete with buildings will be turned over to the city. Officials can then update them as buildings change.
Article from Land Development Magazine
University of Arkansas (UA) students and researchers have found a way to model 3-D representations of a downtown area to address questions of growth and development. Their cutting-edge work attracted the attention of the search engine giant Google and the company SketchUP, which currently are examining the way the students used the software to create such large data files.
The work resulted from what Snow Winters and Malcolm Williamson, two researchers at the UA Center for Advanced Spatial Technology, call a “3-D Mashup,” a merging of the geospatial techniques used for accurate mapping and the 3-D visualization and animation techniques for detailed visualization. They combined the talents of students in two summer workshops, one called Creating Realistic Animation through EAST (CRATE), and the Community Asset and Development Information System (CADIS).
Students involved in this year’s project included university student leaders Caitlin Stevens and Steven Reyenga, and high school students Scott Ha, Celi Birke, Lorianne Gillespie, and Kongmeng Xiong. Four students from Upward Bound also worked on the project.
Tim Conklin, planning and development management director for Fayetteville, Ark., and John Goddard, the coordinator of Fayetteville’s geographic information system, wanted the students to focus on downtown Fayetteville, where development projects for several buildings are currently in the planning stages.
The students gathered architectural, geospatial and photogrammetric data for 1,500 buildings in downtown Fayetteville, and used the information to create accurate 3-D models in SketchUp software. They took 100 of the buildings and used a technique called phototecturing to give the buildings extra details such as windows, sconces, and more. The incorporated building footprints and elevation data using aerial laser imaging and ranging, which gives extremely detailed horizontal and vertical geospatial information, to precisely locate each building.
Using developer-supplied CAD drawings for the proposed buildings, they were able to show how some of the planned buildings would affect views and shadows and the overall look of the downtown area. By doing this, they pushed the limits of the software.
Nobody had ever used this much data in their software, Winters said. The software company, SketchUp, studied how the AU team used the software and wrote new software to handle the large data sets. They also discovered some software glitches in the process, which they then modified. One of the challenges the group faced was making the large file sizes of the data sets accessible to the average computer user. To see the CADIS/CRATE 2006 project please visit
- Fayetteville was named one of America’s Most Livable Cities in 2004 and 2005.
- Fayetteville has been claimed by Money Magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live in America” and ranks #7 on Forbes 2005 list of “Best Places For Business And Careers.
- Fayetteville MSA ranked #1 for job growth by “Milken Institute” in 2003
- 50 Fabulous Places to Retire in America, 2nd edition by Ken Stern
- The city was also featured in “Lifestyle Magazine”, “Southern Living” and “The Best Towns in America” – a where-to-go guide for a better life
It’s time to get Kent on the same “best places” lists. I’ve got a call into Roosevelt and Kent State right now. I’ll keep you posted.