SOM – San Francisco Digital Model

Stakeholder  & Developer: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, San  Francisco

 Process of SOM ‘s Digital Model

With over 20 ongoing projects in the Bay Area, SOM San Francisco decided to create  a 3D Model of the city to better understand and analyze the complex environment of the City.

The creation of SOM’s digital model began with an analysis of historical and present-day maps. The underlying structure was City of San Francisco’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database, for this reason, 3D model would correspond directly to the 2D GIS data to simplify overlays of new geospatial data and future changes.

Because the GIS data is 2D and not intended for 3D visualization, the team then redefined the geometry of the streets and blocks to facilitate 3D operations. SOM created a curvilinear contour model of San Francisco and draped the 2D street grid over it, resulting in a 3D representation of the streetscape. The intersections were subsequently leveled automatically.

With this 3D groundwork in place, SOM then focused on the buildings. Because no database existed with comprehensive information on the City’s buildings, the team referred to aerial photographs, leasing plans, and design drawings to draw 2D outlines of building masses on appropriate parcels. Those outlines were projected onto the sloping ground planes and extruded vertically to create 3D buildings. Some of the buildings are simple box-like forms, while others are modeled in great detail.

The metadata is periodically checked for accuracy by two individuals in SOM’s Digital Design Group and linked to outside resources such as the city assessor’s office.

Model Use / Model User

Wind analysis 

The model records lot numbers, zoning restrictions, and other variables that SOM can use to create specific views to analyze issues like environmental conditions and their effect on existing and potential infrastructure. Moreover, the model is being used by the city planning department of SF to visualize potential zoning changes and development proposals.

City’s current height limits

Certainly, the digital model of SF is a good example how  create and how use a urban information modeling.

 More Information


Architect Magazine

By Soledad Hernandez

IBM: Smart City

Data is being captured today as never before. It reveals everything from large and systemic patterns—of global markets, workflows, national infrastructures and natural systems—to the location, temperature, security and condition of every item in a global supply chain. Since 2008, IBM was talked about what it takes to build a smarter planet. They learned that companies, cities and world are complex systems-indeed, systems of systems. Advancing these systems to be more instrumented, intelligent and interconnected requires a profound shift in management and governance toward far more collaborative approaches.

What does IBM do? IBM unified all data information available in a city and created intelligence and interconnected system to make a smart city.  This city has Operation Center that IBM called IBM Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities. This center synchronizes and analyzes efforts among sectors and agencies as they happen, giving decision makers consolidated information that helps them anticipate—rather than just react to—problems. This system unified city services such as energy & utilities, education, healthcare, public safety and transportation. By using this method, cities, government agencies, and enterprises can optimize operational efficiencies and improve planning

Certainly, this is a good example of what we should do with the data available in the network, which in this case was made a smarter city.

More Information:

IBM Decade of smart

IBM Smarter Cities 

By Soledad Hernandez

Data Modeling Workshop at SOM

This Friday, 2/3, we will meet downtown at the SOM offices in the Santa Fe Building 224 S Michigan Avenue.  Please meet by 10:30 in the lower level atrium lobby where the CAF city model is located.  There are a few different exhibits to see at the CAF which are all publicly accessible.  Feel free to come early, we have reserved a conference room upstairs for 11:00-1:00 so we can talk for a bit downstairs and then head up.  Please bring markers and trace just in case, as I am not certain about the availability of white boards, etc.