A virtual LeVeque

Brandon Holland's LeVeque Tower in Minecraft

The LeVeque Tower was a massive project. During the 1920s, construction took three years and $8 million, and five workers died in two separate incidents. Brandon Holland had it much easier. To create his version of the iconic Downtown skyscraper, he needed eight hours and a little persistence.

This winter, Holland, a 22-year-old junior at Ohio State University, built a copy of the LeVeque Tower in the virtual realm of the popular video game Minecraft. Holland appreciates architecture, and the LeVeque immediately caught his eye when he began at Ohio State, especially after he put it into historical context. “I think I saw a picture of it from way back with Model Ts driving by it,” he says. “It looked like the [current] skyline, but with dirt roads. And then I would walk by it, and the top spiral at the top stuck out from all these square buildings around it.”

Always interested in “building stuff,” Holland took to Minecraft, which gave him “an accessible area to do that.” In Minecraft, users build worlds from the ground up, completing anything from small villages to full-scale copies of cities brick by brick, and many share their work online. While Minecraft may be most popular among younger children, the game's density and lack of structure also appeals to older tinkerers like Holland. “Most games are restrictive, and you can't really create anything,” he says.

Holland's father was unimpressed with his son's Minecraft project and asked how it would help him earn the internship he needs this summer. But the communications, new media and design major got his affirmation when he took his Minecraft project to Reddit, a massive series of online forums that includes a Columbus-centric page. Fellow Columbus Redditors loved his work, boosting his confidence and inspiring him to continue. A full copy of the Huntington Center is his next step in recreating the entire Capitol Square. “It made me want to build more,” he says. “I thought, ‘If you guys like it, I have even more of a reason to do this.'”