Entries Filed Under "Architecture"

October 6, 2008

Vegas Trip: Hoover Dam

Filed under Architecture, Photos, Travel

A short 30 minute drive from Las Vegas is Hoover Dam, probably best known as the structure built to contain Megatron.

We drove out to the dam and I walked across it. It is amazing and worth the trip.

The drive out to Hoover Dam...







A casino in the middle of nowhere



The descent towards Hoover Dam



Power lines from Hoover Dam


New bridge to bypass Hoover Dam







Lake Mead side of the dam




A giant spillway for overflow




The other side of the dam




Arizona side









Nevada side





Trip back to Vegas (strip can be seen in background)





August 12, 2006

Placing Windows

Filed under 3D, Architecture, Maya

In the picture above you can see one window (upper center) placed on the building.

I used a lattice (Maya->Animation->Deform->Create Lattice) to make the window fit into the window rectangle on the building. I had some problems when I was trying to snap to vertex since there were so many vertices. I found that I could simplify the scene and then moving the lattice became trivial. I added 4 "locators" (Maya->Create->Locator) and placed them in the 4 corners of the destination of the window. A locator is just a vertex place holder. With the locators in place, I could hide the entire building model and just use the locators. Next, I hid the window geometry and just used the lattice cube. Instead of working with tens of thousands of vertices and struggling to get the right vertex in the right location, I only had to work with 12. MUCH easier and a big time saver.

One window down, thousands more to go. I started using the duplicate command with and offset (Maya->Edit->Duplicate) to position windows. There were two problems with this...it is *very* tedious* to have to type in all the offsets to place a windows and my system started to grind to a halt when I added about 20 floors of windows.

I decided to stop and try a different approach. My new plan to address the placement issue is to use a script plug-in that comes with Maya called "geometryPaint". It sounds like I could describe how windows are spaced on a grid, make the building paintable, and then just scribble on the building until it is covered in windows. There is no documentation for this script as far as I can tell, so I'll need to do some experimenting and digging on the net.

I believe I already have a good solution for the performance issues as I add many windows. In the original window file, I created a 4 vertex plane that represents the window and has the same dimensions as the window. I put both the high resolution window (the original) and the low resolution window (4 vertex plane) in a LOD group (Maya->Edit->Level of Detail->Group). For the LOD group, you can choose to let the distance from the camera determine which model is used or you can set it manually. While I am modeling, I am going to manually set the low resolution window to show. When I am ready to render, I switch it so that the high resolution will show. Since all the windows are "references" (Maya->File->Create Reference....), I should only have to change the LOD group once and it will effect every window on the building model.

August 8, 2006

Visiting Fenway Park

Filed under Architecture, Photos

If you are going to do one thing when you visit Boston, what should it be? Apparently you go to a Red Sox game.

Baseball is...how should I put it...not my thing. I work next to Ameriquest Field and I haven't been to a Rangers game in at least 2 years. I have probably been to 5 MLB games my entire life.

That said, visiting Fenway Park is special. There is a personality there that comes with years of history.

My buddy John Verostek got us some SRO tickets. That means we had to stand and watch from the back, right? WRONG! We spent most of the time exploring and checking out every angle of the park (as my photos will attest).

The game was actually interesting for a non-baseball fan. The 9th inning was electric as the crowd tried to help get the tying run. Unfortunately it wasn't going to happen. The Red Sox lost in the end to the Cleveland Indians 6-7. Even though they lost, I was mucho impressed with Fenway Park, the Red Sox, and the Boston Fans. I'm glad I got to see it.

Here are my photos from the game.

July 23, 2006


Filed under Architecture, High School, Photos, Reviews, Video

My old high school buddy Chris Franka flew in to hang out for the weekend. Our first stop for happy hour was the new Ghostbar on the 32nd floor of the W Dallas-Victory. The elevator says it is the 33rd floor, but it skips floor 13, just to be safe. Ghostbar has been open for only 3 weeks.

I took pictures and video with my Motorola Q. Let's just say it is a better phone than a camera. Here are the photos. Here is a video from the south balcony, which has an outdoor bar. Here is a video from the north balcony, which has a see-through glass floor.

We got in just before 7 and did not have to pay a cover. For Friday's and Saturday's after happy hour, cover is $20 for guys...girls get in free. For happy hour, ghostbar is just a bar/lounge. Later on a DJ plays music and it becomes a dance club.

The first thing I noticed when I got off the elevator were the waitresses. They are all very tall (most around 6 foot with their heels), very thin, very cute, and dressed in sexy outfits with fishnet stockings. Here is a photo of one of our waitresses.

Ghostbar is one large room with a bar on the west side and couches and chairs throughout. It has a lot of style and attention to detail. Very cool design.

We headed out to the south balcony to see the view. It is amazing, but it got to me a bit. I *love* observation decks in tall buildings, but they scare the *hell* out of me. I could feel the building shake a bit...but I found the more I drank, the less I noticed. We sat at some bar stools right by the glass window on the balcony. The window has a glass bar on it so you can take in the view and enjoy a tasty overpriced beverage. My rum/diet coke was $10 after tip! The window is not connected to anything above, so you really are outside. Besides the bar stools by the edge, there are also some couches and tables that are on the balcony but closer to the building.

The north balcony is much smaller, but it has a see-through floor! That is such a bizarre feeling to be able to see cars driving 32 floors beneath your feet! It took me a while before I could be comfortable out there...but it was worth it. Definitely a thrill.

I ran into one of my friends that works at Ghostbar. He was nice enough to take us to the "VIP" area. The VIP area is just a small corner in the north part of the bar that is sectioned off with a curtain and a private bar and waitstaff. Next, he took us around to meet all the really cute waitresses. Why can't all my friends be this cool?!?!

We left Ghostbar to check out some other places. We planned on coming back to see what it was like later in the evening. We returned at 1:30am, but they had stopped letting people enter because Ghostbar had reached its maximum occupancy of 450.

In summary...way cool bar! I'll put Ghostbar in my regular rotation. Two acrophobic thumbs up!

May 27, 2006

Dallas' Time Square

Filed under Animation, Architecture, Video

This is going to be way cool. This is what the south side of the American Airlines Center will look like in November of 2006. This is the main entrance to the AAC, called "Victory Plaza", which is part of a bigger development called "Victory Park." On either side are two 4 story buildings that will be packed with cool restaurants/bars/shops. ABC's WFAA will move their studio to the bottom of the front, right building and broadcast live with people in the background (like Good Morning America does in Times Square). The coolest part are the 8 huge LED TV screens that *move*! It is hard to explain, so check the video out here...

This is the part I *really* like. The TV's will be showing short (5 minute or less) videos about 16 hours a day. This is called the Victory Media Network. There are a total of 11 screens to work with and 12 discreet channels of audio. If you have an idea for a cool animation that can utilize their screens, they are taking submissions. This is going to be a continuously running and changing digital art exhibit! If you want to submit something, read this. I really want to get something on those screens, so I'm definitely planning on submitting something.

The "W" is set to open in the next month. At 33 stories, it towers above the AAC, right at the end of Victory Plaza. Check out the virtual tour of the Ghostbar at that W link...it has glass, see-through floors protruding from the W towards the AAC, 33 stories above the ground!

An even taller building, 43 stories, is planned for 2008 called "Victory Tower." It will be built next to the W, closer to I35. There is a bunch of development going on, read about it here. I live in a very cool neighborhood!


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