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Students help to build "Virtual Cranbrook"

Cranbrook Information System Dynamic Map

The School of Architecture and Cranbrook Educational Community have engaged in a multi-year effort to design, implement and develop a robust CAD-based system that would virtually render Cranbrook , one of America's greatest architectural complexes, for educational, planning and management purposes, into a 3-D computer model. By combining base mapping technology with detailed 3-D CAD-records; infrastructural, horticultural and historical data; novel rendering technologies; and linkages to a variety of Cranbrook databases, the systems will present a ground-breaking approach to conceptualizing and managing community information systems. Associate Professor of Architecture Wladyslaw Fuchs, who holds M.Arch and Ph.D. degrees from the Warsaw Technical University, began creating the system in January 2004, utilizing existing Cranbrook CAD files and input from Cranbrook staff.

By the fall term, sufficient progress had been made to allow students enrolled in the graduate level "Virtual Cranbrook" course to begin developing the base map further with accurately-scaled and detailed CAD drawings of Cranbrook buildings and through the building of the attendant databases. The School is committed to offering the "Virtual Cranbrook" class over the next several years, to provide first-hand opportunities for students to learn these technologies while refining all aspects of the system prototype. The project holds enormous collaborative potential for both UDM and Cranbrook. UDM students will naturally benefit from their experiences in helping to build a state-of-the-art GIS system that portends to be a national model, while at the same time becoming intimately engaged in studying the grounds, heritage, and physical plant of nearby Cranbrook, a campus known throughout the world for its superb integration of architecture, art, design and horticulture. The project has exciting future implications as well. As the system develops, it might be tapped to drive Internet applications, museum displays, and educational programming geared to audiences of all ages.