Google Earth and SketchUp
The combination of Google Earth and SketchUp allow for viewing of models within a context that Google Earth provides. Google SketchUp, the free version of the modeling software, natively exports models to Google Earth. SketchUp Pro 5 will export models to Google Earth via a plugin. The current beta release of Google Earth now supports the display of textures from the exported file.
Many buildings and other models are avaialable via the 3dwarehouse website, a repository of SketchUp models that can be downloaded and imported into any SketchUp scene.
Plugins and exporting
Google Earth export
3ds Max export
There is a forum topic with an overview of settings and effects on smoothing and textures when exporting a model from SkethUp to 3ds Max.
The eDrawings SketchUp plugin enables exporting a model to an .exe file that can be opened and viewed on any computer, useful for viewing models on computers without SketchUp installed.
Useful scripts for SketchUp that add a vast array of functionality and short cuts. Some free, some cost a fee.
LineofSite is a competition website that runs month-long competitions via SketchUp.