I am currently enrolled at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa for my first year of postgraduate studies. Last year I worked for a company in the US and that is where I was first introduced to Sketch-Up. We didn't do anything too complicated; mainly generated massing models of houses, but that is the great thing about Sketch-Up - you can use it for simple model's and get as complicated and detailed as you wish.
These images come from one of my first projects this year. The building is basically a media centre and study-centre with a university office, two or three small retail outlets, and a reasonably sized bookstore with an adjoining coffee shop that services both the building and the exterior, more public realm.
The building is situated next to a bridge that spans across the freeway and as a result one gets this aerodynamic almost streamlined building that floats above the freeway. The university is situated such that half of it is on one side of the main freeway in South Africa's largest city and the other half on the other. As a result it is a well know institution within the Johannesburg region. It could very well be the largest and perhaps best know universities in South Africa.
It is for this very reason that it creates an icon for the university as well as for the city and while it adds and gives something essentially needed to the university it also gives to the public and the greater Johannesburg community by becoming this huge monument that floats above the freeway.
In terms of Sketch-Up's role in the design, I truly believe that the program made the building what it is. Simply because of it's ease of use combined with its speed, I could quickly and efficiently explore the possibilities of the building and view it in a 3 -Dimensional context - something that is irreplaceable.
It should also be noted that I used Sketch-Up all way through from development stage through to final presentation stage as the pictures shown here depict. There was much investigation into the structural stability and feasibility of the structure to the point where I even consulted with a close friend of mine who is an engineer. He helped me to resolve structural issues and, together with Sketch-Up, we brought the design, in its entirety, to fruition.