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  #1  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2019, 7:42 PM
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San Antonio's future skyline - A Google Earth model

I've been wanting to do something like this for a while. Max Tower who writes for the Austin pages for Towers.net had been using Google Earth's feature that lets users draw building masses. He was using it for new development here, and I had always wanted to create a Google Earth map showing everything in the pipeline. Now I'm expanding that to other Texas cities. I'm not quite done with Houston yet, and I've barely started with Dallas.

The feature allows you to draw building masses. It's not quite the same as Google Sketchup, which is a different feature. For this, you use the polygram draw tool and select the relative to ground feature. You then enter in the height (in meters) for each drawing.

The heights are based on the building elevations we've seen from the site plans. I used the highest height for each building, which in most cases is the mechanical penthouse, so they may appear slightly different in real life since I'm not drawing for the main roof separate from the mechanical penthouse. These are just envelopes to show where they are, their relative size based on the renderings we've seen, and their heights we've seen.

Buildings in red:

Frost Bank Headquarters - 386 feet - 23 floors
Thompson Hotel & Residences - 314 feet - 20 floors
1603 Broadway - 255 feet - 19 floors
Canopy by Hilton - 247 feet - 20 floors
1803 Broadway - 188 feet - 12 floors
Lower Broadway Office Building -104 feet - 8 floors

Blue

Villita Tower - 284 feet - 24 floors
Cambria Hotel - 236 feet - 18 floors
The Floodgate - 212 feet - 17 floors
Durango Apartments - 153 feet - 13 floors

Green (built)

Hilton Garden Inn - 156 feet - 11 floors
The Cellars - 123 feet - 10 floors

I'm putting these behind a spoiler since they're so big. They're not fun for replying to.

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Last edited by KevinFromTexas; Mar 21, 2019 at 3:21 AM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2019, 7:43 PM
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I was thinking, too, if anyone wants to see a particular view, just give me some suggestions. I was thinking of some lower angle views along the highways like I-35, I-37, I-10, 281 and Loop 410, but maybe there are some other street views or from some particular area of the city someone might like to see.

I was also thinking of adding some of the non-high rise projects. I've mostly been interested in mapping the high rises to see how they'll impact the skyline, but some of the others are adding good density, too.
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  #3  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2019, 8:28 PM
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Awesome, Kevin!

To your follow-up point, yeah, I'd like to see some lower angles (200-300 feet) from just outside downtown to give an idea what the skyline looks like as a whole. Maybe from common vantage points that people can actually visit too, such as Willowbrook Drive, The Bushnell Building, Trinity University, etc. I realize you can't recreate it exactly with the limitations of Google Earth, but those are my thoughts.

Thanks for doing this. These are great to look at.
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Old Posted Mar 17, 2019, 9:58 PM
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super cool!

One note, Canopy footprint goes out to the corner on St Mary’s and covers about half of the Esquire. It seems like currently it is shown right on top of Esquire.
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Old Posted Mar 17, 2019, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JACKinBeantown View Post
Awesome, Kevin!

To your follow-up point, yeah, I'd like to see some lower angles (200-300 feet) from just outside downtown to give an idea what the skyline looks like as a whole. Maybe from common vantage points that people can actually visit too, such as Willowbrook Drive, The Bushnell Building, Trinity University, etc. I realize you can't recreate it exactly with the limitations of Google Earth, but those are my thoughts.

Thanks for doing this. These are great to look at.
Cool. I'll do a couple more later this evening and add a few here.

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Originally Posted by Txdev View Post
super cool!

One note, Canopy footprint goes out to the corner on St Mary’s and covers about half of the Esquire. It seems like currently it is shown right on top of Esquire.
Thanks. I'll look into it. I realize they aren't 100 percent realistic, but I do want them to be accurate to the placement, size and height.
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Old Posted Mar 19, 2019, 5:08 PM
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These are awesome, Kevin. I've looked at them several times. I'm looking forward to the next batch.
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  #7  
Old Posted Mar 20, 2019, 12:25 AM
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Can you please do the vantage from the Hays Street bridge?

I do love how much the skyline will be extended by the Broadway corridor highrises. I hope that over time the area between that cluster and the main cluster of downtown fills in a bit more by redeveloping the sea of parking lots.

Also: Towers has not done this for Austin's downtown writ large, just small chunks. Could you endeavor to do the same for Austin including ALL possible projects?
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Metropolitan Central Texas 2018: 5,672,404 (+19.98% over 2010):
San Antonio: 1,532,233 (+15.43%) + Metro Suburbs: 985,803 (+20.94%)
Austin: 964,254 (+22.00%) + Metro Suburbs: 1,204,062 (+30.04%)
Killeen/Temple Metro: 451,679 (+11.44%) + Waco Metro: 271,942 (+15.77%) + Bryan/College Station Metro: 262,431 (+14.77%)
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  #8  
Old Posted Mar 20, 2019, 12:54 PM
MichaelTrexler MichaelTrexler is offline
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I was wondering if the Hemisfair buildings on Alamo and Market could be included?
On a side note, how long until Google updates the satellite images?
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Old Posted Mar 20, 2019, 8:09 PM
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I was wondering if the Hemisfair buildings on Alamo and Market could be included?
On a side note, how long until Google updates the satellite images?
Google Maps updates about every 6 months. Google Earth, on the other hand, updates their 3D maps every few years. Last update for Google Earth's 3D component appears, ostensively, to be around 2010.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2019, 1:05 AM
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Ok, I went back and edited the massings for the Hilton Canopy. I also reworked The Floodgate one after I saw how off I was on that one.

The problem with the Floodgate is that the tower's shape changes from top to bottom as each section shifts a bit. I made the plots for the first section of the building, but the shift is causing some issues since there's no way to draw for those using the polygram method.

Overall, the size and placement of it is more accurate. I was thinking the tower was more octagonal in shape, but it's a bit more squashed than that, which is actually a good thing because it added some bulk to it that was missing before.

I also wasn't able to draw for the cantilevered levels of the Hilton Canopy. The drawings you do have to be attached to the ground. So without having it sitting right on top of the Esquire, I couldn't draw it above it.

I'm going to put these behind spoiler tags so they're less annoying to scroll through.

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Last edited by KevinFromTexas; Mar 21, 2019 at 8:56 PM. Reason: Fixed link
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2019, 1:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Fryguy View Post
Google Maps updates about every 6 months. Google Earth, on the other hand, updates their 3D maps every few years. Last update for Google Earth's 3D component appears, ostensively, to be around 2010.
I was wondering the same, but best I can tell from what I've read on Google is that they update every 1 to 3 years for downtown imagery. That seems to be about right based on how long I've had to wait in the past between new imagery between the time new buildings were built. They may be doing it more often for other areas, but I think area wide they do it less often. Our neighborhood was updated with the one they did for downtown.

Austin's was updated last year, as was Fort Worth's. I think Houston, Dallas and San Antonio's are all still from 2015 based on what buildings are missing. You guys all should be due an update soon. Probably this year. Hopefully, the imagery is from this year so it would include the Frost Bank Headquarters.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2019, 3:38 AM
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2019, 2:35 PM
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Nice and comprehensive!

Two things jump out:
1. How massive the hotel/condo on Lexington & St. Mary's really is compared to its neighbors.
2. How ugly the old CPS buildings were. I think the brown metal panels of the current design are really, really bad; but the overall project is a huge improvement.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2019, 2:45 PM
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What you've done is fantastic, Kevin.

I don't know if you plan to do more and if so, if you want constructive critiques. But here's one: the massing of the Thompson Hotel doesn't show the lower level of the pool deck. That would make the length of the building a little shorter. And the new wing of the convention center isn't there. I'll shut up unless you want us to point out details like that. But whatever, these are great. They really show what SA could look like in a few years if all these buildings get built.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2019, 4:20 PM
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Hey Kevin, is there a way to get heights of buildings from the data in the Google Earth models?
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2019, 9:14 PM
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Originally Posted by JACKinBeantown View Post
What you've done is fantastic, Kevin.

I don't know if you plan to do more and if so, if you want constructive critiques. But here's one: the massing of the Thompson Hotel doesn't show the lower level of the pool deck. That would make the length of the building a little shorter. And the new wing of the convention center isn't there. I'll shut up unless you want us to point out details like that. But whatever, these are great. They really show what SA could look like in a few years if all these buildings get built.
Yeah, I would like to fine tune the Thompson. As for the convention center, I'd be open to adding it as well. Does anyone know of any renderings of it? Are there any plans anywhere? Actually, if you look on Google Earth with the 3D building imagery turned off, they have updated the imagery with real photos showing the convention center expansion. They just haven't transferred that to the digitized imagery on Google Earth yet. They even have the updated photos showing the Frost Bank Headquarters completed even with the cranes taken down, but not digitized imagery yet.



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Hey Kevin, is there a way to get heights of buildings from the data in the Google Earth models?
Are you talking about the drawings I did or the imagery for all the other buildings in Google Earth? For the drawings I did, I used the heights we know of from the building elevations from the site plans. Some others that we didn't have heights for I've estimated those with a ~ symbol to note. I haven't figured out a good way of labeling these models without it being distracting to the imagery.

If you're talking about the existing models/imagery that Google Earth has for existing buildings, then yes, there absolutely is a way to get heights of buildings. You have to measure them using your cursor. I always find the lowest sea level height around the building and subtract that number from the highest height at the building's top. That will give you the height. Google Earth is pretty accurate from what I tell based on comparing it to the actual building elevations we have for some of the buildings. Unfortunately, the imagery doesn't capture spires, antennas or flagpoles too well. The spires on the Marriott aren't even there. There's also a spire in Austin that seems to be shortened as if part of it is missing. And there's a building here with flagpoles on the roof that aren't shown. They also don't show the 1,000+ foot tall tv towers in West Austin, unfortunately. I seem to remember they used to, but not anymore for whatever reason. They do show most larger (bulkier) communication towers in full, like the ones in downtown San Antonio.
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Old Posted Mar 22, 2019, 12:42 AM
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If you're talking about the existing models/imagery that Google Earth has for existing buildings, then yes, there absolutely is a way to get heights of buildings. You have to measure them using your cursor. I always find the lowest sea level height around the building and subtract that number from the highest height at the building's top. That will give you the height. Google Earth is pretty accurate from what I tell based on comparing it to the actual building elevations we have for some of the buildings. Unfortunately, the imagery doesn't capture spires, antennas or flagpoles too well. The spires on the Marriott aren't even there. There's also a spire in Austin that seems to be shortened as if part of it is missing. And there's a building here with flagpoles on the roof that aren't shown. They also don't show the 1,000+ foot tall tv towers in West Austin, unfortunately. I seem to remember they used to, but not anymore for whatever reason. They do show most larger (bulkier) communication towers in full, like the ones in downtown San Antonio.
You answered my question... using the existing Google building models. I'm a roof height guy, so while the spires and flagpoles are definitely part of the structure as a whole, I'm more interested in knowing the heights of the actual buildings themselves. For instance, I think the height you have for the old Frost building is correct but I don't think anyone here had a definitive answer.
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Old Posted Mar 26, 2019, 4:40 PM
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Hey Kevin, this needs that huge full-block midrise by the new HEB, and the Agave apartments on Cesar Chavez.
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Old Posted Mar 27, 2019, 4:16 AM
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And apparently 307 Dwyer is now under construction.
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Old Posted Apr 4, 2019, 1:56 PM
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