Page T4.1 . 27 September 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - Tools Department
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  • Once and Future Graphics Pioneer, Part II
  • Once and Future Graphics Pioneer
  • Virtual Jerusalem

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    Virtual Jerusalem

    by Lili Eylon

    Throughout the centuries Jerusalem has meant many things to many people. And perhaps for that reason, it has been besieged and conquered by the armies of many nations.

    These days, Jerusalem, home to 600,000 inhabitants, is being captured differently. It is all happening quietly in a Jerusalem basement.

    Here, at the headquarters of the Jerusalem Center of Planning in Historic Cities, within the municipality building, a team headed by Kobi Ariel is capturing Jerusalem on computer. Street by street, facade by facade, every angle of the city's center is being modeled with Bentley System's MicroStation.

    "Creating a virtual model of Jerusalem is an ongoing project, a lifetime job which needs constant updating," says Ariel. "But I am young," he adds with a smile, implying that he expects to work many years on his exciting new project.

    And who will have use of Virtual Jerusalem? According to Ariel, architects and all municipal decision-makers: construction planners concerned with roads, buildings, and parks.

    Before he began the computer model, Ariel, an industrial designer, worked with his team on a physical model of the city, a wood and plaster miniature made to a scale of 1:500. "What takes 20 years to build in the physical model takes less than a year on the computer," he says.

    Modeling Step by Step

    In tackling the job, the first step is obtaining maps from the municipality's geographic information systems (GIS) department," says Michal Ben-Hamo, Ariel's assistant. "On these GIS maps is the topography outline; here are marked such data as the various heights (Jerusalem is a hilly town), street names, building names, even trees. We activate only those layers of the city hall maps that are relevant. From the maps we get straight, curved, or circular lines. From these, we determine points of elevation and create a 3D topographic map."



    ArchWeek Photo

    Virtual Jerusalem is being modeled on the computer piece by piece, with the more prominent structures developed in greater detail.
    Image: Jerusalem Center of Planning in Historic Cities

    ArchWeek Photo

    An overview of Virtual Jerusalem.
    Image: Jerusalem Center of Planning in Historic Cities


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