Model Buildings

Leggo my Lego architectural icons and landmarks! Kits let you build your own Villa Savoye, Fallingwater or White House.

By Kristin Belz December 16, 2012 Published in the January 2013 issue of Portland Monthly


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Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye in France is one of the icons of architecture in the Lego line of famous buildings. Build the model and place it on your lawn, to match Corb's siting of the building.

You too can have a "machine in the garden" – no, not a rusted out old car in your backyard, but a Lego model of Le Corbusier's iconic Villa Savoye, his radical vision of the suburban home as a "machine for living." He built his ground-breaking (though it floated on pilotis over the ground, actually) country house in Poissy, France in 1931, but you can build yours on the dining room table and site it on your lawn, to mimic Corb's siting of the home: a pristine, manmade geometric form, independent of nature. With Lego's Architecture  kits of iconic buildings, a modern masterpiece is achievable even for those of us of modest means.

But maybe you're not a Corb fan? Maybe you prefer Mies van der Rohe or even the much more rustic Frank Lloyd Wright? Lego has your back. The Farnsworth House is also in the Architecture line, and Wright boasts a veritable neighborhood: you can build his Robie House, Fallingwater, and the Guggenheim Museum, complete with its latter day additions (though Mr. Wright might want you to leave those out).

Lego’s Scale Model line began in 1962; it was discontinued three years later, but revived some 40 or so years later when Lego noticed what a certain Kansas State Architecture school grad, Adam Reed Tucker, was doing. He had started a company called Brickstructures, Inc., making Lego brick models of famous buildings. Lego bought him out and renamed the line Lego Architecture. Now Tucker is one of three Lego “architectural artists” making a living “interpreting” famous buildings and architectural landmarks into Lego model sets that anyone can make. It's hard not to think that Tucker is also living out a childhood dream. 

From the 1962 World's Fair to the Lego line of famous architectural landmarks: the Seattle Space Needle must be proud of itself.

Tucker and the Lego-ites look beyond modern masterpieces, however. The White House is in the line, as are the Sydney Opera House, Big Ben, and the Brandenburg Gate. Oh, and don't think they'd forget the skyscrapers: the Empire State Building, Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai are all available.  All the kits come with informative handbooks not just to help with construction but also to educate the builder about the history of the structure.

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