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I saw this post today on Lynn Becker‘s blog, about building the Nagakin Capsule Tower out of Legos:

via Lynn Becker

Compare with the original building

It’s strikingly similar; and it got me thinking – what influence has Lego had on modern architecture?  Old, ornate buildings like the Taj Mahal require special pieces and a lot of them, but a lot of more contemporary buildings are recognizable even with only basic bricks:

Sears Tower, via

Famous skyscrapers, via BrickStructures

Then there’s some buildings that look pretty Lego-inspired.  I searched for an hour today to re-locate a photo I saw of a new art center (or school?) in Chicago, that is basically a short box striped in Lego colors.  (Anyone have any idea what it is?)

[will post photo when I finally track it down]

THEN there’s an actual fusion of Lego and architecture, in which building design is all at Lego scale, and/or Lego bricks are physically integrated into the building.

Exhibit A:  Flickr pool of Lego Architecture and Design

Exhibit B:  Artist Jan Vormann, who “repairs” cracked and damaged buildings with Lego bricks

Lego brick building repairs, via Urban Prankster

Exhibit C:   The (now demolished) Lego House

Lego House exterior, via Daily Mail

How could one go about studying the influence of Lego on architecture – not just its color scheme and blockiness, but its modularity and flexibility?  After all, it’s been around for 50 years now… by now there are multiple generations of architects who have no doubt played with them at one time or another…  Would interviews or surveys work?  Study of Lego sales to architecture studios and offices?  Attendance at Lego conventions?

Hmm… I bet there’s a story there for someone who wants to pursue it.

UPDATE:  I still haven’t found that building I had in mind, but maybe this was it – Blair Kamin just posted about a youth center on Chicago’s South Side.  I think it’s safe to say you could Lego that up pretty handily!

Christ the King School, Chicago

Gary Comer Youth Center, Chicago

I’m still having residual geek-out episodes, and probably will for the rest of the week.  Suffice to say, Brickworld was awesome.  I took lots of photos, and some video.

Click here to see photo album via Facebook

Click here to see video via Youtube (to see all, search for my other photos via username)

What I learned:

1) Lego is an extremely versatile medium.

2) “AFOL” = Adult Fan of Lego; MOC = “My Own Creation,” i.e. a piece built from a creator’s original design, rather than a specific set (though it may use one or more elements of a particular set).

3) “Dark Ages” = the term for the period of time between when one originally played with Legos as a kid, and the time when they rediscover and/or repurchase a set of Legos and get addicted again.  (By this timeline, I would be in the very early Renaissance).

4) There are other conferences around the US, as well as Lego-building clubs which meet regularly and put on displays at conferences and other events.

5) The closest meet-up to Ithaca, NY is the one in Washington DC, and I need to try to make it there next year.

6) Legos really do make the world a more awesome place.

And a final note:  my especial admiration and thanks to everyone who built for the conference – I’m so glad I was able to see so many awesome pieces of artwork and design!  I haven’t added any names to the pieces in the photos but I am definitely not trying to take any credit for their work – only share it with more people.  Please add comments if you want to include more info about this awesome event and the people who build!

My one "artsy" photo - a close-up of the Sears Tower and Chicago Spire, large-scale (7+ foot) models built by Brick Structures of Chicago

My one "artsy" photo - a close-up of the Sears Tower and Chicago Spire, large-scale (7+ foot) models built by Brick Structures of Chicago

Overall, Artopolis seemed to be a mixed success – I say this as someone who had zero intention of purchasing anything on display, so I can only hope it was a success for those looking to make and/or spend money there.  Security was up this year, so I couldn’t sneak in for free (sad face) but I suppose it was worth it to support such a large concentration of art in one place.

It could be my imagination, but there seemed to be fewer booths than last year – and many of the galleries, or at least artists’ work showcased by said galleries, were missing from what I remember.  Still, there was some high-quality stuff, and the usual jumble of “things I don’t understand.”  Bucky Fuller was somewhat of a theme in a couple galleries – but I somehow missed the Fly Eye Dome, and will need to stop back at the Merch Mart before June to catch it on display in the lobby.

They got the details right, however.  Not only did I see baskets of hand sanitizer around for the oh-so-topical swine flu scare (side note: if you aren’t supposed to touch the art, do you need your hands sanitized?), but the “Information” stations were whimsical:

"Information" was a floating sign and a little map on a pedestal

"Information" was a floating sign and a little map on a pedestal

Space does not permit me to recount everything I saw, but here’s a good summary – it was almost as interesting to see the people walking around as it was to see the art itself.  Many “artsy types,” old people with money, young students with no money… I wondered what the ratio of buyer to spectator was.  Had to be low.

A nice mix of art and life in the halls

A nice mix of art and life in the halls

I really, really regret that so many of these photos turned out grainy!  For how much light there was in the building, you’d think the camera would have been able to handle the shots without highly accelerated shutter speed.  Sigh.  In any case, the light bulb installation provided some light.  A professor-artist had put together an interactive display of old lamps – turning the lamps on and off would indicate how much energy was being used by the entire grouping, via a screen on the wall with small dots of some kind bouncing around, representing the power level.

Lamp installation, detail

Lamp installation, detail

One recurring theme was that the people manning the booths, possibly having fewer potential customers, always seemed to be texting or messing around on their laptops.   I got some good “inaction” shots.

These two gallery reps were hard at work

These two gallery reps were hard at work

All in all, a good afternoon.  Upcoming: thoughts on my DC and Boston trips (that is, once I’ve finally sorted all the photos and sufficiently reflected on them from an UP perspective).