Meet the Bartlett man who builds Lego replicas of suburban landmarks

Millions of creative minds construct and interlock billions of plastic bricks thanks to a Danish firm whose motto is, “Only the best is good enough.”

Lego, one of the world's most popular brands, provides the building material to fuel ingenuity for enthusiasts like Roger Snow.

Snow, 46, who lives in the Bartlett area, is an “AFOL,” an adult fan of Lego. He credits his interest and passion for Legos from his early childhood. Snow became fascinated with Legos at the age of 4 after a family friend modified a Lego police car and proceeded to turn it into a taxi car.

“At that point, I was pretty much hooked on Lego, seeing what I could build, and it just kept going from there,” said Snow, who grew up to be a plant engineer and works in several different buildings in Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. As decades passed, Snow amassed quite a number of Legos for his lifelong hobby.

Organization of components is paramount for enthusiasts like Snow, whose collection of tens of thousands of Lego pieces must be able to be found at a moments notice.

“To me it depends on how you build, and the size of your collection,” he said.

Snow separates by color all his basic elements of plates, bricks, arches and other detailed pieces.

“I primarily build by color because I build a lot of large buildings. I want to have all the pieces together so that when I'm building, I can build with all the same parts,” Snow said.

One of Snow's recent Lego projects involved creating the Smurfit-Stone Building, modeled after a Chicago building, which took him four weeks to construct.

“It was a project that I wanted to do for quite a long time, but put off to try to figure out how to get these angles on the side of the building, and the roof,” Snow said.

Snow, a member of the Northern Illinois Lego Train Club since 2004, showcases his Lego creations at the club's six to eight shows a year. The shows attract thousands of visitors and are held primarily at public libraries, as well as a Christmas show at Cantigny Park and a summer show in Schaumburg called Brickworld. His Lego-created old Geneva train station, Kane County Courthouse, former Sears Tower and other projects mix with those of other club members to form a Lego landscape.

“It's great to see the reaction when the kids come. They're always very surprised and looking at everything they can find. We typically find that the adults, once the kids get them in to the show, are just as excited as the kids,” Snow said.

“I think my interest in Lego growing up as a kid is what got me to think in three dimensions and really led me to want to become an architect, but I wound up becoming an engineer instead,” said Snow. “You can build anything you can think of; you just have to put your mind to it.”

  Roger Snow, of the Bartlett area, has a passion for collecting Legos from which he constructs various area buildings like the Smurfit-Stone Building in downtown Chicago. Snow holds the Smurfit-Stone Building, which was a challenge to construct for Snow because of its unconventional geometric shape. Daniel White/
  Roger Snow, of the Bartlett area, has a passion for collecting Legos. Above, he shows a multicolored animated figure typically used in the interior of his buildings. Daniel White/
  Brian Williams, of the Northern Illinois Lego Train Club, monitors a portion of the Christmas show at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Daniel White/
  Roger Snow's basement is designed to store his Lego collection. He says organization is key for Lego collectors. Daniel White/
  Michael Schlereth, 9, of Winfield is one of thousands who attended the Northern Illinois Lego Train Club's 13th annual Christmas show at Cantigny Park. "It's great to see the reaction when the kids come," Snow said. Daniel White/
  Roger Snow, of the Bartlett area, has a passion for collecting Legos and sharing his creations in displays with other members of the Northern Illinois Lego Train Club. Daniel White/

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