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AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue #8 (July 31, 2006)

ArchiCAD 10 and Google Earth

JT Burk
Principal, CADeshack

Google Earth is a neat tool to look at different locations around the world with great overhead views. ArchiCAD can work directly with Google Earth to place your 3D model into the viewing environment for a look at your project in context with the surrounding world.

While these tools are still very new, ArchiCAD users can experience them now with the beta releases. For this tip we used the latest beta for Google Earth v4.0 (Google Earth Plus or Pro is required in order to export and import the file formats) and the beta for ArchiCAD 10 to create views of our project in a global context.

First, grab the Google Earth Plus program from (The Plus version costs $20 from Google which can be purchased online.) Then get the ArchiCAD Google Earth plug-in from Graphisoft which is posted on the popular ArchiCAD-talk user group forum: Backup and then replace the GSXML.dll file in your ArchiCAD 10 folder and copy the Google Earth In-Out.apx file in the Add-Ons > Import-Export folder. Once you have these tools, you are ready to begin the model integration from ArchiCAD to Google Earth.

The first action after installing the programs is to open up Google Earth and create a placemark of your project location (paths and polygons can also be created). Keep in mind that the placemark will be the eventual anchor point of your model which imports at the global origin of your ArchiCAD model. Once you have created the placemark, use Save As > Save Place As to store the file in the KMZ file format that you will then import into ArchiCAD. In the example shown below, a building in Virginia Beach, VA, that is the Headquarters for the Chartway Federal Credit Union is being used. (You need to verify the actual location for the placemark, as the initial search for this location was not correct in Google.)

Now you are ready to get to your ArchiCAD model. In the example used for this exercise, we worked with just the exterior shell and saved the project into a separate file as the model was not oriented correctly with actual project north or set with actual metes and bounds. As the model was not set up for actual north, the model must be positioned around the Google Earth point so it will be oriented correctly.

In ArchiCAD you can either open or merge the Google Earth KMZ/KML file. In the example shown here, the Google Earth file was merged into the model file.

Once the Google Earth file has been merged, you can then view your model in the 3D window and as you have placed the Google Earth add-on export, you now have the option to save out the file as a Google Earth KMZ file. Once you have oriented the model correctly, switch to 3D view and save it into the Google Earth format. Since we did not work with coordinates for the example shown here, we rotated and dragged the model around the Google Earth point on the model origin to get the proper orientation. This took a few trial-and-error file saves to get the best result.

As the final step, you can launch Google Earth again and open up the model you just saved in the KMZ format. You will now have your ArchiCAD model inside of Google Earth. Go to your placemark and then just open the ArchiCAD saved file, which will insert it on top of the placemark. You can then e-mail this placemark to anyone along with the 3D model, who can see the project in its context using Google Earth.

About the Author

JT Burk is the Principal of CADeshack, a value added reseller for architects and builders, and has used the Building Information Modeling process for over 14 years when he initially formed The OwneRep Group, a project management & architectural company in Houston & Chicago. Mr. Burk is licensed in fifteen states (NCARB) as an architect. He has over 30 years experience in several different building types as well as an extensive corporate architectural background. He has a Master of Architecture Degree from the University of Wisconsin. He can be reached at or visit his web site at




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