[UPDATE 1800 ET: Mac OSX version works now too! See video below provided by the publishers of the collection.]
Several German readers have sent me E-mail this morning alerting me to the release of 44,000 buildings of Berlin (about 10% of the buildings in Berlin) for Google Earth. Not only that, but five of the buildings are available in the “highest resolution” with even interior details including the Reichstag Building (seat of the German Parliament), and the Olympic Stadium. The models were made possible with help by Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam and a spin-off called 3D Geo GmbH. It was developed by the State of Berlin through the Senate Department of Urban Development, the Senate Department for Economics, Technology, and Women’s Affairs, and Berlin Partner GmbH.
To download the collection (not yet part of the Google Earth layers), use this link (English) or this link (German). These models are not yet part of the Google Earth layers, you have to download them through these links published by the State of Berlin.
At first glance, I’m really impressed with this collection. They have done a good job of balancing performance with complexity. Buildings that are further away automatically disappear (so they don’t use too much memory, and so you see more detail when you are closer to the buildings). Although, this is annoying if you want to take a screenshot of the skyline. You might need a relatively recent computer with a relatively new 3D video card (preferably one with a lot of memory for textures). Because some of you won’t have a fast enough computer, I will do a video demonstration later. [UPDATE: there's a WMV video (Windows Media Player required) available here by the developers which shows off some of the buildings.]
There may be problems reaching the models today since it was just released and there will be high demand for this large collection of 3D models. More details on the release are available from here. Also here is a Spiegel Online article (in German). Thanks to GEB readers Frederic, Mathias, and Manuel for being the first (all within 30 minutes) of telling me about the new collection.