Cube Cities Blog

The Cube Cities Blog

9 November 2015

Altus InSite Launches Cesium-based, 3D Search for Office Space

The updated website with the Cube Cities 3D Search Portal
We've launched a new search portal on the AltusInSite homepage that uses the latest Cesium 3D mapping software. This new portal replaces our previous Google Earth-based 3D map that had been running on the AltusInSite homepage for the last year. Because we've migrated to Cesium from Google Earth, the new portal is cross-platform and cross-browser compatible. 

Additionally, our 3D office market coverage has been expanded to include Ottawa, which joins VancouverCalgaryToronto and Montréal in our 3D search results.

Visit the AltusInSite homepage to begin exploring our 3D office markets with Cesium or click any of the direct city links below.

Downtown Toronto Office Market

Direct Links to Live Office Market Data in 3D

29 June 2015

Cube Cities Real Estate Videos for Retail: CrossIron Mills

Here's a look at a video solution we produce for real estate companies in the retail sector. This example created for Ivanhoé Cambridge's CrossIron Mills shopping centre in Calgary demonstrates their need to communicate property information to prospective retail tenants who are not familiar with the location. With short videos like these we can quickly describe the area demographics, local economic development activity, travel times and infrastructure capacities to retailers considering tenancy in the property.

These videos are created with Google Earth Pro and use customized data visualization elements from Cube Cities.

30 May 2015

Our New Cesium-based API

Cube Cities now offers an API that can visualize any 3D building along with floor-level data using a simple to use URL. We're using Cesium to deliver this solution so it works with any modern web browser as well as iOS and Android tablets.

The Empire State Building in the Cube Cities API with selected floors highlighted
Our API allows users to easily highlight any floors using their own property data sources using parameters in the URL. This means that the API can be used to add a real-time 3D visualization of property data inside of a customers existing application without any need to share property data with Cube Cities.

Background buildings enabled in the Penn Station submarket
Functionality to display background buildings, show a floor plan, change the base map, adjust the camera position or use high quality phototextured 3D building models is also possible. Contact us for a demonstration.

13 April 2015

A How-To Guide For Exploring 3D Buildings in Cesium

Cesium is a great way to explore models of 3D buildings in their actual locations on Earth. Cesium is also an easy (and free) means to embed 3D models on a web page so they can be explored by users on nearly any platform. Here's a quick How-To on loading a building model from SketchUp into Cesium.

Step 1
Create a new model or open an existing model in SketchUp. To find a model of a real building use Trimble's 3D Warehouse. Download the model in SketchUp format. For this example we've shared our model of the Shanghai World Financial on the 3D Warehouse.

Trimble's 3D Warehouse
Step 2
Export a Collada (.dae) file from SketchUp. When doing so its best to create a new folder and export both the .dae file and Collada assets into the new folder. For this example we've exported the file to a folder called WFC.

Compress the Collada folder containing the export into a new file. We now have

click to expand
Step 3
Use the Cesium-to-glTF Converter tool on the website to generate a .gltf file from the compressed model folder. Simply drag the into the box and the Converter will return a glTF file. The model will be displayed on the page once it's successfully converted.

Cesium-to-glTF Converter page

Step 4
Copy the glTF file to a webserver where you will be running an instance of Cesium. We'll assume Cesium is already deployed on the webserver.

Step 5
Both the .glTF file and the model's coordinates need to be pointed to in the Cesium startup script.

Remember that Collada models are not geolocated. This means that the latitude and longitude of the model needs to be included in the Cesium loading script. If the model has already been geolocated we can find the latitude and longitude in SketchUp from the Model Info window.

Finding geolocation in SketchUp 15.2

SketchUp reports the model has Latitude: 31.236433N and Longitude: 121.502979E

The directional 'N' and 'E' can be omitted and we can record the values into the Cesium script in the following format:

var viewer = new Cesium.Viewer('cesiumContainer');var entity = viewer.entities.add({
    position : Cesium.Cartesian3.fromDegrees(121.502979, 31.236433),
    model : {
        uri : 'WFC.gltf'

viewer.trackedEntity = entity;

Step 6
Open and explore the model in Cesium! Click here to see our example page for the Shanghai World Financial Center. Note the page opens directly to a correct birds-eye view of the building model. Remember that because Cesium is amazing and uses WebGL this page will open and behave identically in current web browsers on Mac, PC, iOS or Android.

Shanghai Financial World Center, 100 Century Avenue, Pudong, Shanghai, China
Keep in mind that you can use the Base Map Picker to see different maps around your model no matter where its located on Earth. Imagery providers include Bing Maps, ESRI, OpenStreet-Map and more.

Base Map Picker in Cesium
Contact us with any questions or for help setting up your own 3D building model in Cesium.

9 April 2015

The Density of the 'XYZ' Buildings at Rockefeller Center

The 'XYZ' Buildings
These three enormous buildings in midtown are collectively known as the 'XYZ' buildings, each sharing a similar slab-design that maximizes floor area. The Exxon Building (1971), McGraw-Hill Building (1969) and Time-Life Building (1958) represent the expansion of Rockefeller Center in the 1960s. Harrison, Abramovitz & Harris was the architectural firm that designed each building.

Combined with 1211 Avenue of Americas, which was built in 1973 and also designed by Harrison's firm, these four massive buildings comprise nearly 8.7 million square feet of office and retail space. 

McGraw-Hill: 2,500,000 sqft
Exxon Building: 2,300,000 sqft
Time-Life Building: 1,970,000 sqft
1211 Avenue of the Americas: 1,925,425 sqft
Total = 8,698,425 sqft

When standing in Times Square or on Sixth Avenue anywhere from 47th to 49th Street, these buildings project a feeling of commercial power and corporate establishment.

The imagery below illustrates these buildings in their midtown context with the background buildings of midtown visible in the last image.

8.7M sqft
(click to expand)

5 April 2015

260 & 261 Madison Avenue + 1 Vanderbilt massing

The Cesium mapping software makes it easy to load and manipulate high quality photo textured (Collada) models of office buildings and articulate them with property data. The imagery below showcase these Grand Central-district buildings that were both built in 1953. Web applications that illustrate buildings in this method and can reveal floor level data are products provided by Cube Cities.

260 & 261 Madison Avenue
Floor information highlighted on 261 Madison Avenue

The imagery below compares the scale of 260 & 261 Madison Avenue with One Vanderbilt, the supertall skyscraper proposed West of Grand Central Terminal on 42nd Street.

For comparison purposes, the rooftop heights of 260 & 261 Madison are 300 and 347 feet, the proposed height of 1 Vanderbilt is 1,514 feet. SL Green Realty is the developer behind 1 Vanderbilt.

One Vanderbilt = Orange
260 & 261 Madison Avenue = Blue

31 March 2015

The Future Central Park South Skyline

The Central Park South skyline will change dramatically in the years to come. Supertall skyscrapers along the 57th street corridor in Midtown will rise to great heights and reorient eyes upwards. The imagery below shows the view today and the 3D map shows the heights of the buildings now under construction.

Today's Midtown Skyline

Tomorrow's Midtown Skyline
Here's a quick video of a Cesium-based application that exposes floor level data in the Nordstrom Tower and One57.

18 March 2015

New York Supertalls: 432 Park Avenue

We're particularly interested in visualizing the new super tall developments along 57th Street in Midtown. Here is imagery of 432 Park Avenue, the 1,396 foot tower that topped out late last year. Red floors indicate the suites remaining on the market in this luxury residential building developed by CIM Group.

We'll share more visualizations of the other mega developments under construction in Manhattan soon.

432 Park Avenue, background buildings colourized by building type.

The GM Building, 432 Park Avenue, and 745 Fifth Avenue from Grand Army Plaza
Cesium / Reality

13 March 2015

Examining Hollywood's 3D Cities

We've been paying attention to the 3D city visualizations found in recent Hollywood movies. They can be described as immersive, wireframe building models that illustrate data across large urban areas. Military or emergency services actors typically utilize these wireframe city models to gain awareness of local activity in tactical scenarios. 

Floor-level building visualizations are found in these visualizations, used as the best way of understanding cities in these sci-fi visuals. Color choices are monotone and clean, simplistic geometric models populate the map to provide for transparency and insight.

Examples from the movies Transformers 3 and Hunger Games: Mockingjay are seen below.

Floor-level view of Chicago's Loop from Transformers 3

Transformers 3

Computerized view of The Capitol from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

When considering the software options available today to recreate the sophisticated interfaces we see in cinema, there are few off-the-shelf products. It would be very difficult to deliver such high quality, real time city visualization systems without significant investment in proprietary technologies.
We're imagining these kind of visualization concepts as we build applications at Cube Cities. Below are examples of the Market Street corridor in San Francisco and the US Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles, visualized with our wireframe styles calibrated for tactical location finding.

San Francisco
Floors of the US Bank Tower in Downtown Los Angeles

17 February 2015

1.5M Sqft of New Retail Space Coming To Lower Manhattan

Here's a visualization of the 1.5 million square feet of new retail space under construction or being renovated in Lower Manhattan. According to the Downtown Alliance, consumers spend over $5 billion each year at over 1,000 retail and restaurant locations in downtown New York.

Development of new retail across Lower Manhattan

Buildings with new retail space coming to market

A report of the properties with new retail space is available here from New York's Downtown Alliance. The report includes 5 under construction properties and 18 projects with new retail coming from repositioned space. Watch the video below to see the entire visualization.

13 February 2015

Cesium: The Best Choice For Mapping On The Web

Development of the Cesium mapping platform is happening fast. The software is now the obvious choice for visualizing spatial data on the web. With strong support from AGI, Cesium development has accelerated since the version 1.0 release in August of last year with new updates every month. Recently, major attention has been given to help provide the same user experience in Cesium as was possible with the Google Earth API. Support for KML, flyTo Camera controls and easy ways to draw placemarks and labels on the map are just a few of the latest updates. Thorough blog posts have been published to help developers use the latest functions. With the recent updates to Cesium there are no longer any technical limitations that make any commercial mapping products a reasonable alternative. In fact, the stability of the Cesium map and rapid, high quality graphics make Cesium the indisputable choice to delivering web-based mapping solutions.

The AGI development team has recently ported the famous Google Earth Plugin site Monster Milk Truck to Cesium. Dennis Wegewijs, the creator of Cycling the Alps has ported his application to Cesium as well. This is evidence that Cesium is a logical alternative to migrating complex GIS web applications and can provide a consistent experience to Earth. These converted applications are especially valuable for developers to see how logic written for the Google Earth API can be translated to work with Cesium in a straightforward manner.

When one considers that Cesium is Apache 2.0 licensed (free for commercial use), uses WebGL (native in iOS 8), requires no plugin to run in a web browser, and is cross-platform compatible, it's undeniable that this software is going to dominate 3D visualization on the web.

Cesium-based Monster Milk Truck!
The Cube Cities team is using Cesium to build new kinds of interactive real estate applications. We've been sharing imagery from the programs we've been developing, but soon we will be giving public exposure to our Cesium-based applications. Below is a look at our building data for Manhattan with a glimpse into the new One World Trade Centre.

Available office space in One World Trade Centre in Lower Manhattan
Contact us to learn more about how Cube Cities can help migrate legacy real estate mapping products to free, Cesium-based web solutions.

12 February 2015

Visualizing Available Office Space in The Durst Organization's Midtown Portfolio

The Durst Organization's buildings near Bryant Park. 
Dark green = full floors, light green = partial floors
Here's a look at new Cube Cities imagery of the available office space in The Durst Organization's New York portfolio. Taken from our new Cesium-based mapping application, this visual shows every floor in each building and lights up the available space in each property. Cube Cities can quickly produce interactive visualizations for any landlord or property owner in New York.

Distribution of the Durst Organizations' midtown portfolio
The buildings in this visualization, clustered on the left include:
4 Times Square
One Bryant Park
1133 Avenue of the Americas
1155 Avenue of the Americas
114 West 47th Street

The cluster on the right are:
655 Third Avenue
205 East 42nd Street 
675 Third Avenue
733 Third Avenue
825 Third Avenue

Buildings visualized with surrounding midtown buildings

8 February 2015

The National September 11th Memorial

South pool of the September 11th Memorial
The National September 11th Memorial is vast and imposing. The Memorial is a tribute to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.

The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in the North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker created the Memorial design selected from a global design competition that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations.

The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools, a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history.


View NW across the south pool towards the World Financial Center
The plaza is very open, noticeably so when entering the plaza from the surrounding density of Lower Manhattan. White oaks are planted at regular intervals throughout the plaza. The pools are cavernous and contain basins where water falls to unseeable depths. The scale of the site is very impressive.

World Trade Center complex in red
The full buildout of the World Trade Center complex will eventually include over 10,700,000 square feet of office and retail space. The Port Authority of New York will eventually develop 1,300,000 square feet in WTC 5 on the south side of Liberty street. The visualization above shows the density surrounding the complex.

27 January 2015

Migrating from Earth to Cesium

Here's a guest post we wrote for the Cesium blog, here's a link to the full article:

Web developers who are evaluating alternatives to the Google Earth API should look to Cesium for ease of use, impressive visualization capability and broad compatibility with WebGL. Former Google Earth developers will quickly be impressed with Cesium's power & stability, rich API reference and relative ease in migrating code. This article provides some background on what the Google Earth API contributed to 3D mapping and information for developers on what to expect when planning a migration to Cesium. (continue)

19 January 2015

Floors with Remaining Residences at 432 Park Avenue

The remaining residences available in the supertall skyscraper 432 Park Avenue are down to 11 from 104. The floors with the remaining residences are shown in red in the imagery below, visualized using Cesium.

432 Park Avenue is being developed by CIM Group, construction is expected to finish this spring. Prices start at just over $17 million for 3,575 sqft on the 41st floor. Two penthouse units are available with asking prices starting at $76 million. The tower is the tallest residential building in the western world and now one of Manhattan's major landmarks.

432 Park Avenue, view SW
View NW over Central Park

Available Space in The Empire State Building, Viewed With Cesium

Cube Cities is now developing real estate data visualizations based on Cesium, a new virtual globe software that is extremely versatile. Cesium delivers fast 3D data visuals that work easily in all modern web browsers without a plug-in. With Cesium and Cube Cities, the real estate markets of large urban areas like Manhattan can be easily explored with an iPad.

The graphics below are Cube Cities application screenshots that illustrate the currently available floors in The Empire State Building, the data is from Empire State Realty Trust. Background office buildings are colored in blue, multifamily buildings in green and hotels in purple.

Contact us to see any building visualized in 3D, on a discrete floor level, using Cesium.

The Empire State Building, Midtown Manhattan buildings beyond
The Empire State Building, view to the North West

The Empire State Building and only the Penn Station commercial submarket