Digital Element Donates Architectural Animation of Oakland's Municipal Boathouse Rehabilitation.

The Virtual Boathouse, valued at over $20,000, allows planners and public to better understand and comment on proposed rehabilitation.

Oakland, California – Digital Element, Inc., the Oakland developer of WorldBuilder, a software tool used to create ultra-realistic landscapes for virtual environments, in cooperation with the Rotary Club of Piedmont- Montclair, has donated to the people of Oakland an interactive "Virtual Boathouse" model, valued at more than $20,000, that presents the proposed renovation to the Oakland Municipal Boathouse and the surrounding grounds. The $6-million boathouse project is slated for completion in the Summer of 2006.

In 2002, Oakland voters approved Measure DD, establishing the Lake Merritt Master Plan, which includes several projects intended to make the lake and parks around it more accessible, and to provide a unified design theme for the lake area. The Municipal Boathouse, built in 1908 and enlarged in 1913, is one of the buildings that will be returned to near its original design. In order to visualize the proposed modifications to the building, parking areas, and landscaping, Digital Element's WorldBuilder Pro™ software has been used to build a virtual tour of the yet to be completed Boathouse project, with an emphasis on the exterior plantings and amenities.

Lake Merritt, "the Jewel of Oakland", is one of the largest urban lakes in the United Sates. It has been host to Olympic Rowing Trails, a sailing club, the annual Dragon Boat Races, a few genuine Venetian Gondolas complete with red-striped-shirted gondoliers, and an amazingly large flock of fat and sassy Canada geese. It is home to Children's Fairyland and a large and impressive collection of Bonsai. Lake Merritt is served by two early-1900's boathouses, the Sailing Boathouse and the Municipal Boat House. Measure DD provides more than $198 million in funding to polish the jewel, restoring the sparkle of an earlier era.

The firms of Murakami and Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT, San Francisco) are responsible for the Municipal Boathouse rehabilitation, with WRT Associate John R. Gibbs handling the landscape architecture. After Don McClure, President of Digital Element, and Vice President of the Piedmont-Montclair Rotary Club offered his company's expertise to create the Virtual Boathouse, he, Gibbs, and Steve Rothenberg, founder of 3Depot, a Bay Area architectural rendering firm, worked to ensure that the Virtual Boathouse would faithfully present the actual plantings and other aspects of the project. Rothenberg donated his time as project coordinator, while Digital Element donated the time of it staff to create the Boathouse and landscape models.

"As a Rotarian, I believe its part of our duty as citizens to use our professional skills to better our community through vocational service," said Don McClure, President of Digital Element. "Digital Element believes in service to the community, and we are happy to be able to give the people of Oakland a tool that can help them understand this wonderful project and have an informed opinion about how their tax dollars are being used. Reading architectural plans takes a certain expertise, but anyone can walk around the Virtual Boathouse and see for themselves what the city plans to do."

Visitors to the Virtual Boathouse are provided a guided tour of the area. Walking along the multi-use path, they see realistic plants and trees that show how the grounds will look after the project is completed. The Virtual Boathouse makes it easy to appreciate the benefits of moving the parking lot, replanting the landscape, and better connecting the building to the water. Many of the same plants specified by the Boathouse's original architect, John Galen Howard, well known for his designs of many buildings on the UC Berkeley campus, are included in the rehabilitation plan and in the virtual environment.

The world of the Virtual Boathouse was created using a several of Digital Element's products: Digital Element's Verdant™ was used to create custom models of the plants in the area, which were added to the landscape generated using WorldBuilder Pro™ from elevation data provided by WRT. A popular 3D modeling package was used to create the model of the rehabilitated Boathouse which was integrated into the scene using WorldBuilder's unique technology.

About Digital Element
Digital Element, Inc. develops and publishes high-end software tools and plug-ins that recreate nature on the computer screen. Their products are used by 3D artists, architects, game designers, developers of interactive training materials, and dedicated hobbyists around the world. WorldBuilder Pro™ and WorldBuilder Genesis™, stand-alone packages that create 3D scenes and animation, are industry leaders for detail, power, and ease of use, and exchange data with popular 3D modeling programs. Digital Element's Photoshop and After Effects/Final Cut Pro plug-ins, including Aurora™, Verdant™, and ModelShop™, allow Adobe and Apple users to create compelling nature effects easily within 2D applications. Digital Element may be reached at, or at 554 56th Street, Oakland, CA 94609, +1 510-601- 7351, Email'> Email.

About 3Depot
3Depot specializes in architectural and civil renderings using a variety of software packages, including Digital Element's WorldBuilder Pro™ for landscaping. 3Depot supplies project management, and custom project design, and has an extensive US-based computer network for creating high-definition scenes. 3Depot can be reached at, Email'> Email


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