nmc virtual worlds

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  • This collection includes real photographs from the Cleveland area used by the design team and ones taken in Second Life at OneCleveland and associated events.
More photos or video tagged with nmcvw-clevelandplus on Flickr

All Case Studies

Virtual Worlds Case Study:

Cleveland Plus

The original OneCleveland Project in Second Life was planned as the virtual counterpart of the real-life collaboration between Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Central to the design was the goal of not only portraying the partnership these institutions share in Cleveland, which includes the OneCleveland gigabit network, and many ongoing cultural and civic activities, but more importantly, to enhance it.


The design challenge was to accurately evoke the sense of being in Cleveland, Ohio, and to create spaces within the sim that reflect the unique character of each of these institutions as well as the flavor of the city, while also illustrating their geographic relationships. Each partner brought their own goals to the project, which required a design that both understood and balanced the nuances of these overlapping goals.

Seven iconic buildings were chosen for the build, and a detailed scale model was constructed to carefully determine the optimal placement and orientation of each component. The model was used in a series of dialogs with the OneCleveland team that ultimately resulted in a design that delivered on the expectations of each partner.

Cleveland One Model
Detailed scale model created in design process

Replicating these structures required painstaking attention to detail, and extensive reference photos were used to capture the look and feel of a wide range of world-famous structures. The buildings represent very different styles, from the ultra-modern Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s unique pyramid design by I.M Pei to the neoclassical Severance Hall, a music hall designed in the Masonic tradition and home to the Cleveland Orchestra.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Second Life
Adding to the design challenge was incorporating the new home of the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, which was itself still in the design stage in the real world. The virtual rendering of the Center, which allows the building to be viewed in significantly different ways from a physical model, was planned as an important component of their fund-raising and development strategy.

Case Western Reserve University’s Admissions Office led the planning for the campus portion of the build, which includes the campus’ athletic fields; realistically modeled dorms, including a model two-bedroom apartment; the Kelvin Smith Library; Adelbert Hall; and the Spartan Diner. The Admissions staff brought in specially-trained student ambassadors to meet prospective students and provide tours of the virtual campus. An identical sim, complete in every detail, was also built on the Teen Grid to allow visitations by prospective students who may not yet be eighteen. (See a report on this aspect of the project from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The design included the development of a number of special avatars and clothing, including a full set of academic regalia to support virtual graduation ceremonies. Plans are to use these avatars for a series of lectures by prominent scientists and professors, including several Nobel laureates.

Phase One of the OneCleveland sim was designed, built and completed in 7 weeks, and is now in its permanent home adjacent to the NMC Campus. The sim was officially launched with a one-of-a-kind performance by Red {an orchestra}.

Red {an orchestra} at OneCleveland
Audience at the OneCleveland sim viewing live performance of Red {an orhchestra}, April 15, 2007

Phase Two will begin this summer, and will expand the project from one sim to seven.