Daily digest: SketchUp gets native V-Ray integration, an ancient Midwestern empire, and more

Ancient Non-Aliens

Daily digest: SketchUp gets native V-Ray integration, an ancient Midwestern empire, and more

An example of the differing rendering capabilities now available in SketchUp natively (Courtesy Trimble)

Welcome back to another daily digest roundup of news and long-reads to start the day off with. Are you in New York City? As vaccination rates and shot supplies rise (to the point that state-run walk-in clinics are now offering them to anyone), Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this morning that New York would be reopening 100 percent on July 1. Will other cities across America follow suit?

Here’s what you need to know:

Native V-Ray integration comes to SketchUp

V-Ray has always been available to use in Trimble-owned SketchUp as a separate plugin, but on April 26, the company announced that the rendering tool would now come baked into the 3D-modeling program by default. SketchUp users will now have instant access to V-Ray’s online content library, Chaos Cosmos, which includes a number of premade models to use in renderings. Instead of dealing with finicky extra steps, the announcement should result in a more streamlined experience for anyone looking to render inside of SketchUp at any detail level.

Renovations at the Acropolis draw ire

An attempt to restore the western entrance to Greece’s Acropolis, and rectify the renovation mistakes of the past, is being met with pushback. Although the plan, which would restore a 1st-century staircase and improve pedestrian circulation, was approved in February, a constellation of universities and preservationists are calling on the Greek government to cancel the project. They fear that altering the Unesco World Heritage Site like this would open the floodgates to similar overhauls elsewhere.

H/t to The Art Newspaper

This house in California is also being sold as an NFT

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and the debate around them, aren’t going away. Whether it was the controversy over the golden Chadwick Boseman head given away in this year’s Oscars swag bags, or the NFT offered, then withdrawn, for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Free Comb with Pagoda (complete with the right to destroy the original artwork!), this week alone saw a lot of ire directed towards the sale of digital ownership certificates.

Now, in something of a companion piece to AN’s original story about a Paul Rudolph-designed home being sold as an NFT, it turns out another property was listed in a similar manner in California on April 8—the same day the Rudolph listing in New York went live. 221 Dryden Street in Thousand Oaks, California, is being offered up by broker Shane Dulgeroff on the crypto art marketplace OpenSea; the top bidder on an original artwork by designer Kii Arens, who slathered the two-bedroom gabled home in neon colors, will also get the physical building.

At the time of writing, the home’s reserve price was set for 520 Ether ($1,441,195) and there are no bids yet.

H/t to Dezeen

Burning Man 2021 is canceled, again

Bad news, Burners (and fans of monumentally scaled temporary architecture), Burning Man 2021 has been canceled. This marks the second year that the physical festival, held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada has been called off. Festival organizers had been shooting to hold this year’s event from August 26 through September 3, and had even released designs for potentially permanent installations in March, but it appears uncertainty about vaccination rates ultimately won out.

“But, although here in the United States we may be feeling the weight lifting and the light at the end of the tunnel brightening,” wrote organizers on the Burning Man website, “we are still in the pandemic, and the uncertainties that need to be resolved are impossible to resolve in the time we have.”

H/t to AP News

Did an ancient empire build art deco towers across the Midwest? No.

Did the ancient, globe-spanning empire of Tartaria build the Midwest’s art deco treasures? How else could humans have possibly created such architectural marvels 100 years ago? Zach Mortice dug into a Reddit community of conspiracy theorists who believe that modern architecture is a conspiracy to wipe away the achievements of our technologically advanced forbearers for a sinister purpose (it’s unclear how many members are just trolling).

H/t to Bloomberg CityLab

New York’s plan to regulate hotel development comes under fire

Mayor Bill de Blasio is drawing criticism for a new plan to require every new hotel project to receive City Council approval before it can break ground. It’s expected that the council will sign the bill into law before the end of Mayor de Blasio’s term this year, but planning officials are warning that if passed, the dearth of hotel rooms would cause the city to lose out on $7 billion in tax revenue by 2035.

Even though the Mayor is notoriously pro-development, hotel trade and real estate groups are claiming the move would be unnecessarily restrictive. Currently, if a site is zoned for a hotel and within proper height and massing boundaries, no special approvals are needed.

H/t to The New York Times