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Examining San Francisco's Future With The Largest-Ever 3D-Printed Model

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — What's six square feet, 150 pounds of resin and can give you a Godzilla-like view of San Francisco? It's what two local companies have dubbed as the largest-ever 3D-printed scale model of the city, and it's designed to predict the future of San Francisco.

Unveiled this week, the model covers over 115 blocks of the Financial and South of Market districts, including landmarks like AT&T Park, the Ferry Building and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Architecture software and visual marketing companies Autodesk and Steelblue created the model to help real-estate developer Tishman Speyer tell the story of urban development in the rapidly changing SoMa neighborhood. The neighborhood, once covered by industrial warehouses, saw a major transformation during the 2000s with the arrival of technology companies and the Transbay Terminal Replacement Project breaking ground in August 2010.

New high-rise residential projects in SoMa, like One Rincon Hill and Millennium Tower, are also transforming the San Francisco skyline. Several buildings that are currently under construction in the real-world are featured in the 3D-printed models as finished forms, providing a sneak-peek of a future San Francisco in 2017.

The 3D model can also aid in urban planning and construction decisions by using data visualization layers, such as traffic patterns, demographic data and energy consumption.

"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 surrounds," said O'Brien Chalmers, president of Steelblue, in a blog post. "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."

Autodesk representatives said the model may actually be the largest 3D-printed model of any city, but it hasn't been formally verified.

The San Francisco model will remain with Tishman Speyer, and a second planned print of the model is expected to be displayed at the Autodesk Gallery, where it will be open to the public later this year.


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