Little Northwestern – Evanston, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

Evanston, Illinois

Little Northwestern

A student designed this 3D-printed scale replica of the entire university campus.  

The campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, stretches across 231 acres of Lake Michigan’s northern shoreline, combining an eclectic collection of verdant greenery, artificial lagoons, Midwestern beaches, and several eras of American architectural design into a single, unified whole.

Ever since 2012, those who don’t have the time to visit all of those sights in person could satisfy themselves with a three-dimensional, bird’s-eye view over the entire campus, thanks to a 3D-printed scale model of the university that was printed right next to the building it now calls home.

Located in the lobby of Northwestern’s sprawling Technological Institute (simply called “Tech” by the students who study and work there), the meticulously detailed replica is the work of a former undergraduate student named Ben Rothman. What started as a simple way to blow off steam—building a life-sized copy of his freshman dormitory in Minecraft—became a full-scale homage to the university at large, with Rothman adding building after building until he had constructed the entirety of the campus.

With the school’s blessing, Rothman later brought his digital Northwestern to life using a 3D printer housed within the university’s Rapid Prototyping Lab. The model is now proudly displayed behind glass for all Tech visitors to see.

Know Before You Go

To visit Rothman's work, walk through the front entrance of Northwestern's Technological Institute, located at 2145 Sheridan Road, and walk straight ahead to the doors of Ryan Auditorium. There you'll find the model housed in a glass display case against the wall beside the doors.

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