Jeanny’s First SketchUp Experience

Front View of the Apartment Building

For this SketchUp lab, I created a model of the apartment building that I spent most of my childhood in. Because the building was in an apartment complex, it is connected with two or three other buildings with different structures. I chose to isolate the building that I lived in and just create a model of that single architecture.

The initial part of the project was fairly easy since I was just drawing shapes and building the outer structure of the building. The only part that I struggled with for a bit was trying to create two octagon shape towers on the side of the building. I found it difficult to align an octagon with a rectangle and adjust them to the correct dimension. To be honest, the end product still does not have the correct dimensions. The building is supposed to appear more slim and the two octagon towers are supposed to appear smaller against the main building.

Creating the roofs was also a tussle for me. In class, we only learned about how to create a triangle roof. However, the apartment building has pyramid roofs. I tried to apply the same measures to make pyramids, but it accidentally destroyed a larger structure of the building. After being frustrated for twenty minutes, I attempted to use the pencil to draw a pyramid. It was hard to make a perfect, standard pyramid with pencil at first. After successfully making the first pyramid structure, the rest of them became a cakewalk.

Here is a picture of the pyramid roofs with an aerial view.

Bird View of the Apartment Building

The final touch-up of the model was particularly challenging for me as I struggled to create duplicates of windows and little balconies for ACs’ condensing units. The copying and pasting function in SketchUp is just not very intuitive. I not only could not figure out how to flip the windows around when I tried to paste them onto the other side of the building, I also almost always copied random elements by accident because I struggled to use the selecting tool. This chaotic process of copying and pasting has messed up some structures in the building, unfortunately I did not know how to restore them back to the original form. I was stuck on this part of the project for a long time, and at the end I was running out of time and I had no choice but to forfeit the plan of decorating the whole building. The back of the building was supposed to look the same but without the gray door in the middle.

Overall, because it was my first time using SketchUp, I was troubled by a lot of nitty-gritty details and it all comes down to the fact that I have not familiarized myself with the software. I am somewhat satisfied with my model, and here are more pictures of it.

More View of the Apartment Building (1)
More View of the Apartment Building (2)
More View of the Apartment Building (3)

3D modeling has been gaining popularity rapidly in the field of historical, social and other aspects of humanistic studies over the years. I know that researchers have been creating 3D models of architectures and artifacts with significant historical meanings. Tools like SketchUp can be used to preserve, study, and explore important historical items virtually, providing new possibilities to scholars all around the world. For example, thanks to the 3D model of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France was able to restore the church back to its original state after the fire. In my Chinese Art and Culture class at Carleton, we were able to scrutinize various ancient Chinese art up close by looking at their 3D models while the actual artifacts are laying in museum exhibits halfway across the globe.

A tip for SketchUp: if you are using track pad in SketchUp, you can change the device sensibility of zoom, orbit, pan respectively in navigation setting, which is a function that I found useful.



  1. I love how the windows are evenly spaced out. Great job with the details. Looks really nice.

  2. I feel like I can’t imagine how you made hexagons on either side — is that a premade shape? Either way, looks awesome!

  3. Really like the color and hexagon structures. Also, how do you change the font for the blogs?

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