Arlington Hts. architect builds 13 world landmarks out of Legos
Adam Reed Tucker of Arlington Heights is one of only 14 Lego certified professionals worldwide. His work is not child's play. Tucker is a trained architect, and Legos are his medium.
His latest exhibit of 13 world-famous landmarks -- built entirely of Legos -- is on display at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library through April and drawing big crowds. It opened this month on the first floor beneath the natural glow of a skylight.
"I work weekends, and it's like the Museum of Science and Industry here," says librarian Michael Mulholland. "It draws so many people, and they all circle around it and seem to know which direction to go."
Among the buildings featured are Willis Tower and the John Hancock Center in Chicago, the Empire State Building and one of the twin towers destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, as well as St. Louis' Gateway Arch and the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.
A replica of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai stands 17 feet and took Tucker three months to build. Tucker says while that structure took him the longest to build, the reconstruction of Fallingwater, the home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, was the most fun.
"I love the design process," Tucker says, "of figuring out how to achieve the tapering, the setbacks, the slopes and circles.
"I don't use glue or any adhesives," he adds. "Every piece is one that you could buy at a toy store."
Each building features an exhibit label, with statistics about the original building and architect, as well as about the Lego model. Visitors learn its height, number of Legos used in its construction -- more than 450,000 for the Burj, alone -- and hours it took Tucker to build.
During a recent weekday morning, the exhibit drew children from the library story hour to ogle the buildings, as well as adult patrons, who marveled at the construction.
"This is absolutely a work of art," said Art Roth of Arlington Heights, who appreciated the scale of the models from his hobby of model railroading. "You are an artist."
The exhibit debuted in 2009 at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry and it has traveled to the National Building Museum in Washington, the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit and the Midland Arts Museum in Grand Rapids, among other locations.
Locally, it was shown at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin, and Tucker currently is talking to officials with libraries in Schaumburg and Niles about hosting the exhibit.
Next up for Tucker is an exhibit in Brickworld, the Lego exposition taking place June 20 and 21 at the Schaumburg Convention Center. For the annual show, which he helped to co-found, Tucker will step outside the world of skyscrapers. Instead, he's busy re-creating the mushroom houses for a 1980s era, Smurf Village.