Architects Change Their View on Roofs Due to Google Earth

Dubai Offshore Real Estate in Google EarthThe LA Times published a story a few days ago called “Architects change their view of the lowly roof”. Partly due to the popularity of looking at buildings from directly above (thanks to Google Earth), architects are now viewing the tops of buildings as the “fifth facade”. A place to get creative and decorate for those millions of people world-wide who may view your buildings from above. The article mentions the new de Young museum roof in San Francisco for example (which is viewable under construction in Google Earth). Some architects are creating new “green roofs” which have gardens or parks on the top. Architects report that clients are regularly appearing making requests based on views they have gathered from Google Earth. Architecture students are regularly using Google Earth, especially since the addition of the 3D modeling program SketchUp.

“My students use Google Earth obsessively, especially now that it includes SketchUp,” said Paul Preissner, a Chicago architect who is teaching this fall at the University of Nebraska.

The newspaper also refers to the huge hotel / real estate developments offshore in Dubai. Here’s a collection of placemarks and aerial photo overlays documenting the various projects in Dubai (which was posted at the GEC).

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. Excellent! I look forward to cities becoming more than ugly gray splotches from a distance.

  2. This is a great example to rid any impressions that Google Earth first and foremost is a toy; if such a notion ever existed..

  3. Yes Google Earth is great for roofs. We do roofing down in Sydney and are currently trying out the satellite view to spot roofs that need repair.

  4. Wow the humble roof is now much more in view these days thanks to Google Global. Really who would have thought. And Dinah above, how innovative of you to spot roofs in need of repair.

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