Plan Portsmouth: 3D Mapping of Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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Portsmouth hires Tangram 3DS for 3D mapping of historic district

Seacoast Online | January 7, 2015

Tangram 3DS, an architectural visualization firm based in Kittery, Maine, was recently selected by the city of Portsmouth to produce a large-scale 3D massing model of the city’s historic district.

The extensive online model will encompass more than 1,000 properties – including 600-plus fully textured buildings in photographic detail – in addition to a dedicated web portal for viewers.

In early 2014, the city and the Historic District Commission put out a request for qualifications in search of a firm to develop a 3D model of the city’s historic district to enable the HDC, owners, occupants, design teams and residents to better visualize how proposed projects would fit into their surroundings, both in mass and design.

“Although all firms had extensive 3D modeling experience, in the end, we felt Tangram’s offer to texture all the buildings using more than 6,000 on-the-ground photographs would deliver a higher-quality image than the product and methodology proposed by the other firms,” said Nick Cracknell, principal planner of the city’s Planning Department. “Their local experience in preparing models for nearly a dozen projects within the study area, their high degree of accessibility and their desire to showcase this project for the city and their firm were also important in the final selection. In summary, they’re highly competent, highly responsive and highly supportive – all key ingredients to making this project work on a limited budget.”

“This was a great project for us to take on,” said Stefan Vittori, Tangram’s principal and managing director. “In all we put over 2,000 hours into this project. It wasn’t about the money. It was about being involved in the community, and performing for the better good of that community. Everyone knows our work, so we set out to really showcase our vast abilities.”

After completing the extensive 3D map, Tangram iDs, a division of Tangram 3DS, created a viewing tool to provide a 360-degree view of each of the downloadable areas. Embedded into the city’s software package, CityEngine, the viewing tool allows users to access the site interactively without the need of downloading or installing special 3D software. Offering a new and precise vantage point, Tangram’s 3D map of Portsmouth has already proven to be a highly accessible and useful city planning tool. Many city meetings, like the HDC, are displaying it on a large projector during their discussions.

Portsmouth can now require developers to place submitted proposals into the 3D map model via the CityEngine portal several days in advance of public meetings. As a result, officials and the general public can view the exact positioning and design of a proposed development and make more informed decisions in the planning and approval process.

“We hope to continue and build on our relationship with Tangram given the rate of development within the District and the need to keep the model current,” Cracknell said. “We also want to expand the model to include other areas within the district for 3D modeling as well as texturing more buildings.”

To see the 3D map in action, visit