ZNO 3D Buildings NOT Built with SketchUp

According to a comment to my blog entry earlier today about the proliferation of new 3D models for Google Earth, the guys at ZNO are NOT using SketchUp. ZNO has published over a dozen nice 3D models of unique building architecture around the world in recent weeks. Apparently they prefer to use an architectural-oriented CAD program called ArchiCAD by GraphiSoft (which has it’s own plugin for outputting KML in beta). Read the comment posted by ZNO for their views. ArchiCAD’s starter edition costs US$1500 at one distributor I checked, and a team (multiuser) edition costs US$4000. Not for your general user I don’t think. Interestingly, ArchiCAD actually provides a supported integration with SketchUp as well.

Given that the ZNO blog is published by an architectural firrm (based in New Zealand), it’s not surprising they would favor an application they are familiar with, and find useful for their work. However, I think many more non-professional 3D model developers are going to start developing their own 3D models with wide-spread dissemination of easy to use software like SketchUp. Especially if Google does something “crazy” like release a free version of SketchUp or even incorporates some of its basic modelling tools as an add-on module to a future version of Google Earth.
It’s funny, but just from looking at the models from ZNO and comparing them to the many SketchUp models out there, I had thought the ZNO ones were produced by SketchUp. I guess that’s why they wanted to clarify things.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Hi again Frank!
    I fully agree with you and I might ‘guess’ that different versions of SketchUp will appear depending on which kind of G.E. version you have or pay for (as I had ‘sniffed’ in the air that Google would incorporate SketchUp a couple of weeks ago… Business as usual…)
    However, and this is my question, to well represent any object in space it lacks more than a software and some pictures. As architects as we are (and ZNO as well, although I don’t talk here on their behalf) we know that specific knowledge is necessary to produce reliable 3D models, which is more or less necessary according to later usage.
    I believe that there’s space for everyone, from the small “assembled cubes” to our highly detailed models (which are NOT created specifically for Google Earth, they are, at the moment, a by-product of our usual work), the only question for us at the moment is how much will Google allow other initiatives to blossom. The software we have developed, for example, work with AutoCAD databases in a manner that not even AutoDesk would know for now, I guess so… 😉

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