See The Changes That The San Francisco Skyline Will Undergo In The Next 3 Years

See The Changes That The San Francisco Skyline Will Undergo In The Next 3 Years

Steelblue and Autodesk depicts a portion of the city and includes buildings that have yet to be completed or built.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 13 june 2014

Creative agency Steelblue and software design firm Autodesk teamed up to create a 3D-printed scale model of the San Francisco skyline. The 3D-printed model not only shows all the existing buildings and structures of the city in detail, but also presents the finished form of structures that are currently in construction – providing viewers with a peek at what the skyline may look like in the year 2017.

The scale model covers a portion of San Francisco, over 115 city blocks, and may be the largest and most detailed 3D-printed model of a U.S. city, according to the creators.

Steelblue and Autodesk created the model for their client, real estate developer Tishman Speyer, to help the firm with urban planning and building construction decisions. The 3D-printed model was created block by block, and each block can be picked up and examined by itself, maybe even replaced to give developers a visual of what the area can look like in the future.


The 3D-printed scale model displays projects that are still being constructed – including the Salesforce Tower, the new wing of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as large infrastructure projects like the Transbay Transit Center.

The scale model becomes even more interesting when viewed with a projection system that overlays images of transit lines, traffic pattern simulations, and more.

In a news release, O’Brien Chalmers, President of Steelblue, said,

For developers, architects, urban planners, city officials and the public at large, there is nothing quite like a scale model of your city to gain new insights into your surroundings. With 3D printing, we add in a rapid-prototyping capability. We can swap in buildings or entire city blocks to explore design options and to keep the model up to date in rapidly evolving neighborhoods. Adding layers of data visualizations gives us even more power to understand and visualize the way new buildings and infrastructure will impact the urban landscape and the people who live and work there.

The model was produced with two Objet Connex 500 printers at Autodesk’s Pier 9 Workshop, and is based on a digital model created by Steelblue from photogrammetry, city planning data, and architectural drawings. The print took around two months to complete.

The scale model is currently with Tishman Speyer, but the creators are planning to display a second print at the Autodesk Gallery, where it will be open to the public.

The success of the scale model of San Francisco has already prompted Steelblue is already creating models of other cities at their headquarters in San Francisco.

Justin Lokitz, Senior Product Manager at Autodesk, said,

We’ve been creating digital 3D models of cities around the world. They are incredible tools for urban planning, but sometimes the tactile experience of a physical model provides insights and understanding you can’t get from a screen. This project is really the embodiment of our Pier 9 Workshop – experimenting with new fabrication methods to bring the digital and physical worlds closer together.

Take a look at the video by Steelblue below showing the production of the 3D printed scale model.

Steelblue // Autodesk

[h/t] SFGate


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