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Brick Skyscrapers: EMP's LEGO Exhibit

'Block by Block,' an exhibition of landmark buildings made from bricks, wows

Published on: January 28, 2014

Hearst buildingAlthough EMP Museum's new LEGO exhibit may at first seem startling in its simplicity — ten landmark buildings constructed of the bricks — it’s a wonder to behold, with height, intricate designs and clear beauty.

The structures displayed in Block By Block: Inventing Amazing Architecture  were built by Tacoma, Washington-based Dan Parker, a former LEGO-certified professional, range from four to nine feet tall. Each building sits atop a simply sketched map of a few surrounding streets.

Landmarks include Seattle’s Space Needle (look for the 12th Man flag), New York’s Chrysler Building, and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Placards next to each building tell how many bricks were used to build it, how many hours it took to complete it, and interesting facts about each real building. For example, the term “23 Skidoo” is thought to have originated because police officers yelled this phrase at men who loitered near New York’s Flat Iron Building to catch a glimpse of women’s ankles as their skirts billowed due to the wind created by the building’s shape.

Be sure to check out Parker’s planning documents and sketches in a case near the back wall of the exhibit.

Young builders will love the hands-on activity add-ons. Guests of all ages can create their own LEGO structures in the play area. Complete an architectural marvel and add it to a “Mini-Megalopolis” community display.

Kid quote

“It’s like a mirror. You can see your face and hands in it,” said my 9-year-old daughter of our family exhibit favorite, the mostly blue, shimmering, 5-foot-tall Hearst Tower.

Parent tips

- If your children dislike crowds, call ahead and ask when the museum is expected to be less busy. Only a certain number of people can be in the exhibit space at a time, which keeps the main event less crowded. You might have to wait in line, though, and it may seem too crowded for more sensitive children.

- Enjoy the rest of the museum while you are there. My family really loved the larger-than-life photographic headshots in the "Martin Schoeller: Close Up" exhibition, which closes February 16, 2014.

- There is ample parking in lots at Seattle Center, but ponder taking the bus to avoid parking fees.

- Tip from a reader: "The Lego buildings were very cool but cooler for the kids was the big load of Lego parts and building station. It was busy at the building station, so a 3-year-old might get squeezed, but there are chairs at the table and parents can assist. Also wonderful at EMP for even the youngest kids is the Sound Lab upstairs where you can use various instruments, record, etc. And if you have a kid over 4 or 5 who likes pop music, it is cool to watch music videos (the clean versions) downstairs in the lobby in the Sky Church on that massive screen. My girls had a great time seeing videos to the songs they hear on the radio in the car."

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