Model Finder

Zoom in and click model outlines to see attributes and download link for each model.

Active Buildings
Proposed Buildings
Model History
Frame Center:
X Offest:
Y Offest:


The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) maintains a 3D model of the city as a visualization and analytical tool for understanding ideas related to the future of neighborhoods. The BPDA city model is constructed of several components: Terrain, Groundplan, and 3D models of buildings. Each of these components is shared in formats intended to facilitate collaboration between diverse communities who have an interest in understanding places in the city as they have changed or as they may be changed.

BPDA 3D Download Page    About the CitySchema project

Disclaimer: The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) recognizes the value and benefit gained by sharing Geospatial data. The BPDA makes no representations or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information provided. The BPDA provides this data as is and with all faults, and makes no warranty of any kind. Each user is responsible for determining the suitability of the data for their intended use or purpose. Neither the City, the BPDA nor its affiliates, employees, or agents shall be liable for any loss or injury caused in whole or in part by use of any data obtained from this website. The geospatial data is updated and modified on a regular basis and users are encouraged to report any errors to the BPDA.

Dataset Description

The collection of 3D models of buildings, bridges and walls has been compiled frm many sources over many years. The 3d Model catalog records the provenance of each model, the model's status (Historical, Current, or Proposed), geometric information about the model and links to pertinent resources. A deeper discussion of the organization of the model collection can be found in the Bos3d Model Collection and Catalog document.

The open-source building models collection provides 3D models and a catalog formats that are compatible with open-source tools for modeling, model transformation, web visualization and long-term archiving.

The model collection is segmented into tiles. Each model being assigned to the tile that its centroid falls within. Each three-dimensional building, bridge and wall model is formatted in Wavefront Object (.OBJ) format and zipped with its materials (if it has any). A human-readable json file that includes the attributes of the model is included in the zip archive with each model.

Each tile's collection includes a Catalog Folder that holds a catalog data file and a tile frame and a low-resolution copy of the tile's base-map. These resources are used by the ModelFinder.htm -- a simple javascript enabled page that creates an clickable model index map. Clicking the model's footprint on the map reveals its attributes and a download link for the zipped OBJ package. The ModelFinder application provides a means for collaborators to discover and selectively download updated models.

The ModelFinder application demonstrates how the tiled model archive and catalog can be used by open-source tool-chains to systematically access every model in the collection according to its attributes. The catalog folder also contains a validation log that records the issues that our translation program discovered while converting the models from Geodatabase to .OBJ format. Most of these issues are repaired while writing to OBJ format.

The tiled model collections are available from the BPDA 3D Data Download Map. Users can download the entire Archive Catalog for any tile, or you can click the Browse Individual Models link to use that a tile's ModelFinder app to browse and download individual building models.

For users who download the entire open-source model repository and catalog for a tile, the ModelFinder application serves as a finding aid and model database whether or not your computer is connected to the internet.

Usage Notes

Metro Boston 3D Coordinate System

Surveyors and engineers in Massachusetts prepare their official drawings using the Massachusetts State Plane Coordinate System with coordinates expressed in Feet. The origin of the State Plane grid lies outside the state, which makes coordinate references much larger numbers than most most 3D modeling tools can deal with gracefully. The creators of AutoCAD, 3DsMax, Rhino, SketchUp and Blender all recommend moving geospatially referenced geometry closer to the origin to avoid problems of precision when creating, transforming or rendering.

To facilitate on-going exchange of 3D models, the BPDA has chosen a default offset that places the origin to the South-West of Boston and neighboring cities. While this shifter coordinate system may not be exactly what you want to use for your modeling project, preserving the position of the insertion point and a tile boundary in your models will make it easy to exchange updates with other Metro 3D Boston users.

Projected Coordinate System: State Plane Massachusetts Mainland (Feet), North American Datum of 1983.

Vertical Coordinate System for 3D data: North American Vertical Datum, 1988 (NAVD 88) Feet (Height)

Origin / Offset / Insertion Point

The origin of the Metro 3D Boston coordinate system serves as the insertion point for models.

To align Metro 3D Boston grid with True North: Rotate 0.34 Degrees clockwise.

To georeference SketchUp tiles for interoperability with SketchUp's geolcoation tools, see the Notes at the bottom of the SketchUp Models page.

Transformation Hints

Developers of web applications may be interested in translating these models to WGS84 or arbitrary cartesian coordinates. This requirement has been addressed by including the Latitude and Longitude along with the X and Y offsets for the 2-D centroid of each model and tile boundary. Tiles are 5000 by 5000 feet.

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