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Newly-unveiled 3D diorama captures the layout — and spirit — of BYU

PROVO — Ever wanted to explore every corner and cranny of the sprawling Brigham Young University campus but just didn’t have the time — or perhaps the cardio capacity?

Save your breath, now there’s a second option.

On July 2 the Church-owned university unveiled a massive three-dimensional campus model at the Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center. The fun is in the details. At a scale of 1-inch = 45-feet, the 9-foot-by-12-foot diorama replicates not only almost every building, physical structure and property on the BYU campus — but designers also ventured to 3D print most of the trees.

Got a favorite shade tree you perhaps enjoyed studying under during your BYU days? If it’s still standing, you’ll likely find it here. The model even features the Provo Utah Temple.

Mary Sorensen, her mother Stephanie Sorensen, President Kevin J Worthen and his wife Peggy look at the Easter egg placed on the map as BYU unveils highly-detailed campus diorama on Tuesday, July 2, 2019.
Mary Sorensen, her mother Stephanie Sorensen, President Kevin J Worthen and his wife Peggy look at the Easter egg placed on the map as BYU unveils highly-detailed campus diorama on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“The level of detail is absolutely amazing,” said BYU President Kevin J Worthen at Tuesday’s unveiling ceremony.

The project was funded by Stephanie S. and John L. Sorensen, a pair of BYU alums who met on a blind date here while undergraduates.

The diorama is expected to be a must-see attraction for both first-time BYU visitors and returning alums.

Utilizing an interactive program, visitors can select areas on campus that they would like to learn more about and the corresponding area on the model lights up. Meanwhile, a screen provides details on the selected area.

Designed by the Utah-based 3D model company WhiteClouds, the model/project offers plenty of gee-whiz elements:

Matthew O. Richardson, Advancement Vice President, and Jim Kasen, Director of University relations talk about the highly-detailed campus diorama as BYU unveils it in Provo on Tuesday, July 2, 2019.
Matthew O. Richardson, Advancement Vice President, and Jim Kasen, Director of University relations talk about the highly-detailed campus diorama as BYU unveils it in Provo on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

• Design efforts began in early 2018. Installing the model at the BYU visitors center required some 240 hours.

• Approximately 367 acres are represented.

• Some 2,750 hours were spent in designing the model.

• Designers needed 650 hours to print the 81 different buildings.

• Ever been caught in campus traffic after a Cougar ballgame? Then you’ll appreciate the 700 cars included in the model.

Stephanie Sorensen said she has always had a passion for maps — “and this is the ultimate map.” Like the gospel of Jesus Christ, a map offers direction and perspective, she said.

Diorama viewers can also spot a fun “Easter egg” that doubles as a lasting nod to its benefactors. Tiny models representing the Sorensens are found holding hands near the residential area of campus that the young couple once called home.

John Sorensen thanked the BYU and WhiteClouds leadership and employees for making the campus model possible. Now living in Orange County, California, the Sorensens treasure their ongoing connection to their alma mater.

“We had so many beautiful experiences here at BYU as young people,” he said. “We had the opportunity to be taught and educated, which gave us the foundation to go into the world and start a business, work hard and be blessed financially.”

BYU unveils highly-detailed campus diorama on Tuesday, July 2, 2019.
BYU unveils highly-detailed campus diorama on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The simple representations captured in the campus model are reflective of the Savior’s teachings, he added.

“The gospel,” he said, “is beautifully simple and simply beautiful.”

Located near the center of campus, BYU’s Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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