Construction of aLoft’s flagship hotels, first prototyped in Second Life, now complete

Read the whole story, and more about architecture in virtual worlds at The ARCH Network

prototype now built in the real world

The headline-grabbing aLoft Hotel project, first prototyped in Second Life before construction started, can now be visited in the real world (and has been open for quite some time now).  Starwood Hotels was the first to take their hotel’s architectural concept into the virtual world via Electric Sheep, and even used the virtual prototype to invite feedback they eventually used to modify the design construction started in real life.

Business Week (among others) covered the project, and had this to say about it,

For Starwood, opening aloft inSecond Life is a way to test-market the hotel’s design and rapidly prototype the evolving concept. For instance, staffers will observe how people move through the space, what areas and types of furniture they gravitate towards, and what they ignore…. The project is also an effort to tap consumers for ideas. “

Second Life prototype of real world architecture

“This is the first time the company has created a complete mock hotel—digital or physical—to serve as “a laboratory,” says Starwood Vice-President Brian McGuinness, adding that they’re already building a second physical prototype for an extended-stay hotel under the Westin label in the same White Plains warehouse.

“This is unusual for the industry. Hotel prototypes usually don’t amount to more than a single-room model that might be shown at a trade show. But the company says that both prototypes made financial sense.”

As you can see, it can be difficult to determine which shots were taken of the real world building, and which were from Second Life.  Just imagine the possibilities for architectural prototyping that will become possible with mesh imports in Second Life, or importing models into gaming platforms like Unity.

This time-lapse machinima shows the creation of the project in Second Life:

Read the whole story, and more about architecture in virtual worlds at The ARCH Network


$900 million facility prototyped in Second Life now under construction

Cross posted from The ARCH Network main site!

These are the latest construction progress photos I could find of new Palomar West Medical Campus in San Diego, which is currently under construction – scheduled to open in 2011.  When the virtual architectural simulation was completed in early 2008, it attracted the attention of The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Forbes, as the largest and most comprehensive architectural prototypes of a construction-bound project ever built in Second Life (aLoft and Dedato’s build were big too, but Palomar is much bigger- weighing in at 775,000 square feet).  The virtual prototype was used by Cisco to showcase the facility’s communications features through immersive simulations in Second Life, and was built by Millions of Us.

If you know of any more recent construction photos, please let me know!

Upcoming Event: July 9th at 2pm SL-time (PDT): Tour of TowerVisions

If you are even remotely interested in the use of virtual worlds to augment the professional practice of architecture, you won’t want to miss this!

On July 9th, at 2:00pm SL-time (PDT), Bernd Bötzel (Vision Planer in SL), architect, project developer and managing director at DU Diederichs, and Hana Lundquist, leading architect and SL developer, also at DU Diederichs, will give us a guided tour of a design concept they developed and replicated in Second Life for the adaptive re-use of Bethanienturm, a church that was heavily damaged during World War 2.

The project, called ‘TowerVisions‘ is the collaborative effort of DU Diederichs (a German project management firm), Anshe Chung Studios (a content and real estate developer in Second Life), and Planufaktur (the development firm developing this project).

If you haven’t already seen this build, I highly recommend taking the time to check it out!  It is truly one of a kind!  Next to the Palomar and aLoft builds, this is definitely among the largest scale and highest quality examples demonstrating how Second Life can be used for real-life design visualization.

HERE is the SLurl (teleport directly).

All images from

Urbanism, Architecture, Planning: How Second Life Can Help Build the Urban Landscape of the First Life–and Vice Versa

I’m super excited to have the opportunity to be on a panel for Second Life’s 5th birthday party, called “Urbanism, Architecture, Planning: How Second Life Can Help Build the Urban Landscape of the First Life–and Vice Versa

See you there?!?!

Here are the details:
July 1, 12:00 p.m. PT


Rissa Maidstone (RL Kim Smith)

Tab Scott (RL Terry Beaubois), Creative Research Lab, Montana State University
Diva Canto (RL Cristina Lopes), Dept. of Informatics, UC Irvine
Boston Borst (RL Eric Gordon), Department of Visual and Media Arts, Emerson College, Hub2
Keystone Bouchard (RL Jon Brouchoud), Crescendo Design, Studio Wikitecture