Exercise: Context Model


A context model includes the buildings and geographic features that surround a site. The context model allows you to see your work surrounded by a real or imagined context. In this exercise you will be drawing a two-dimensional site plan in AutoCAD. The file will be imported to 3DS Max where it will be converted to a three-dimensional model. 

Objectives/Outcomes and Assessment Criteria

Students will acquire and demonstrate: 1.) technical competency in working with importing files, generating volumes, setting up cameras, and lighting, and rendering views, 2.) sense of craft through precision and care in the presentation of the work, 3.) design aptitude in the ability to solve an organization problem and explore possible solutions, 4.) judgment in the selection of camera views. 5.) consideration of limitations and constraints in the problem solving process.


CM.1. Open AutoCAD. Begin a new drawing. Name the file with your name followed by SitePlan.

CM.2. Change the units to Architectural.

CM.3. Generate the following layers. Base, Streets, 1-Story_Structure,2-Story_Structure, 3-Story_Structure, 4-Story_Structure 

CM.4. Set your current layer to Base. Draw a 1,000' x 1,000' square.

CM.5. Inside this square you will be drawing city blocks, streets and buildings. Blocks are 200' x 400' Streets are 40'-0" wide. Corners should have a 5'-0" radius. Make the blocks closed polylines.

CM.6. The buildable area is 10'-0" in from the streets. Draw a rectangle to represent the buildable area.    

CM.6. Inside the buildable area draw the footprints of buildings. The size and shape of each building is your choice. All shapes must be closed shapes like rectangles, circles, ellipses or polylines.  Put some on the 1-Story_Structure, some on the 2-Story_Structure, and some on the 3-Story_Structure layers. You will have an assortment of building heights. Fill each block with buildings. Leave a 100' x 80' area close to the center of big square open. This will be the site where your structure goes.


CM.7. Close and save the file.

CM.8. Open 3DS Max. Create a new file and name the file with your name followed by Context Model. Go to the Customize menu and click on Units Setup. If it isn't already, change the units to US Standard.

CM.9. Import the AutoCAD site plan. Accept all defaults and click OK.

CM.10. Change the layout to have 4 viewports. 

CM.11. Click on one of the buildings in your plan. From the Modifier List select Extrude.


CM.12. Assign a height of 12 feet per story. The 2-story structures will be 24'.

CM.13. Click on the Base layer (1,000' x 1,000' square). Extrude that layer to a negative value like -1'. 

CM.14. Set up 2 camera views looking down the streets of your context model. Include the empty site (100'x80') in your views. Make sure that you can not see the edges of your context model in your views.

CM.15. Introduce a material for your context model. A neutral material is recommended.

CM.16. Select the Base layer and the Building layers. To do this open the Layer Manager. Click on the layers. Hold down Ctrl to select more than one. Click on the Select Highlighted Objects and Layers icon. 

CM.17. In the Materials window select Assign Materials to Selection.

CM.18. Create a Daylight System.

CM.19. Render your four camera views using the same rendering settings previously used. Save the files using the same names as the 3DS Max file. Also, add numbers 1 & 2 for each camera.

CM.20. Upload the 3DS Max file and jpg files to your Google Drive.