Selecting and Downloading a Model
1) Download the latest Google Earth.
It may be possible to do this through the browser version in Google Maps, but I'd rather use something more stable. Plus Earth is so cool, just so cool.
2) Enable 3D buildings.
3) Find A Building.
Anything that highlights blue when mouse-over can be found in 3D Warehouse, which is the repository of user-made files associated with Sketch-Up. Click on a building and then the picture of the building to take you to the page in 3D Warehouse. Not all buildings used in Earth are downloadable. For this tutorial we chose Taipei 101.
4) Download the Model (.skp).
Happens to be in this case, the Taipei 101 model used in Earth is not downloadable but a quick search of 3D Warehouse yielded some great models that are. You can tell which ones are or are not by the blue "download model" drop down. You can always use 3D Warehouse
without first going through Earth, but that's no fun, usually. Other models in other formats can be found on Thingiverse
(great for .stl files) and on Autodesk's 123D
**note: some buildings simply won't make good 3d prints because of all the terrain used to make the model. Whatever is highlighted in blue on mouse-over will also make its way into the 3d model and may prove difficult or impossible to print.