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Spring Edition
Volume 97, Number 4


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Click here to view the new college map

The making of a map

Maps communicate using a universally understood visual language that people have relied on for centuries to help them navigate the unknown or unfamiliar. Not only do maps translate well across cultures and time, using maps is relatively easy because as macroscopes (the opposite of MICROscopes) maps provide a manageable perspective of something extremely large and unwieldy.

For years, Messiah has provided campus guests with an adequate macroscope of campus—but the map was a simple overhead-view line drawing with many one-dimensional boxes of various colors which merely showed the footprint size and relative location of each building on campus.  The map was useful for seeing the overall lay of the land and for understanding the size and spatial relationships of structures. But visitors standing in front of a campus building with this map in hand, found it nearly impossible to identify which one-dimensional colored box on the map matched the three-dimensional building rising up in front of them.  Besides this limitation, the map could not effectively communicate the real beauty of Messiah’s campus.

Old  College Map
Before the new 3-D map, Messiah College used this one dimensional image.

To remedy this situation the College commissioned the creation of an illustrated 3-D map that would help visitors find their way around campus, identify buildings, and grasp the overall beauty of the campus more easily.

Creating this new map was an arduous process that took the greater part of a year and began with a series of aerial photos taken from a number of compass points. These photos then were evaluated to determine which perspective provided the greatest number of recognizable views of the most number of buildings.  A photo of the best orientation was selected and used as the foundation for constructing a computer-generated illustration.  Hundreds of ground-level photos of campus buildings and focal points were also taken from the same compass orientation as the aerial photo to augment the visual data made available to the illustrator.   These ground-level photos equipped the illustrator to recreate accurately even the smallest details of every structure on the map.

Over the ensuing months, through a series of proofs and revisions, the 3-D map slowly took form. During that time, taking advantage of today’s communication technologies, the Florida-based illustrator was able to construct the entire map having only visited Messiah’s campus on one occasion. 

According to Barry Goodling, vice president of advancement at Messiah College, the new map is an essential tool that will benefit the College in a number of important ways:

  • The new map will be used on a variety of printed publications as well as on the Web, both as an illustration and as a map.
  • The outdated map at the College's main entrance will be replaced with the new 3-D map.
  • A print of the illustration (without the map key/legend) suitable for framing may be available for purchase sometime in the future.
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View a demonstration of how the aerial photograph was used as the foundation to create the 3-D illustrated map
link to contest winners Visit Messiah College's campus map website
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