A few years ago, I took my family to the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. and saw a jaw-dropping exhibit.

It featured the work of Adam Reed Tucker, a trained architect and LEGO Certified Professional (1 of only 12 in the world). Tucker had taken years to create 15 scale models built entirely out of hundreds of thousands of LEGO pieces—from the Empire State Building to St. Louis’ Gateway Arch to the Eiffel Tower. The model of the Burj Khalifa, which was once the world’s tallest building, took 340 hours to build, is 17 1/2 feet high, and has 450,300 bricks.

We were all awestruck. Who is this guy, I wondered, and how did he get into doing these huge LEGO projects?

Adam Reed Tucker got his first LEGO set as a little kid and played with them, avidly, for about ten years. No surprise, he eventually got into design and architecture, ultimately getting a degree from Kansas State University in 1996.

Watch this video to see Adam Reed Tucker talk about the book based on his work: LEGO Architecture: The Visual Guide.

Inspired by Tragedy

Why did he decide to create famous buildings with LEGO? In an interview with Smithsonian.com, Tucker says he was inspired to start after the 9/11 terrorist attack that brought down New York’s World Trade Towers. Out of fear, people had stopped visiting other large buildings. “I thought it would be neat to educate people on the engineering and the design that goes into these buildings,” Tucker said.

But first, he had to think of a way to inspire people’s interest. Remembering his childhood obsession, he went to a local Toys R Us and “filled up several shopping carts with LEGO sets.” From there, he began to build and exhibit giant scale models. In 2006, he was invited to a LEGO event to share his work and passion and was hired by the company to create even more structures.

Amazingly, Tucker doesn’t use computers or sketches to help create his LEGO buildings. He simply works from photographs to make an “artistic capture . . . of a structure in its pure form.” He admits to rebuilding sections up to “15 times just to get it right.”

The results are incredible, allowing viewers to experience the beauty and complexity of these buildings in a new way.

Do you have a budding engineer or architect? If so, check out the LEGO Architecture Studio kit—inspired by Tucker’s work—which includes more than 1,200 bricks and a 272-page guidebook.

 

 

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