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LEGO Techniques - Commission #1

As a result of a bunch of media exposure that was the result of a lone Reddit post from a lone imgur picture, I received a request for TWO commissions.  I had displayed my 1:1000 scale Portland at Bricks Cascade 2014.  Someone took a picture and posted it and it went somewhat viral.  I had three media outlets contact me.  The staff at Gerding Theater in Portland saw the news article on OPB and asked me to model their building out of LEGO.  In fact, they had just been talking the week before wondering if there was a local LEGO artist.  I don't know that I'd call myself an artist but I'll take it anyway.

Since the buzz was all about 1:1000 scale, I started by showing them some examples that would have equated to a 4x8 plate.  Certainly not big enough.  I went to the 8x16; nope.  16x32?  Keep going.  When I presented the 32x32 baseplate, I was asked if I could do the model on two of them.  Absolutely, I can do darn near anything you want.

The Gerding Theater sits on a half block which equates to 100x200'.  There is some street slope on the 200' side but the topography on the other sides is level.  Since I wanted to take the sidewalks into account, I had to really get about 112x224' onto two baseplates.

The building was built as an armory in 1892.  All dark red brick with some dark grey and dark tan stone work.  I started with the windows as there were numerous ones.  Once I figured out a solution I went to see how big the building would be.  I ended up at 28x54 studs.  It's not exactly 1:2 but it's close enough that no one will notice.  This left enough room for sidewalks all around though I did cantilever by one stud on the sloped side.  Final scale ends up right around 1:140.


Dark red is not an easy color to work with.  It's pretty and all that but part selection is limited.  The main entrance has a huge half circle arch.  A 1x8x2 would have been perfect but I had to settle for a 1x6x1 with some inverted slopes below it.  There is a small turret on one corner and the 2x2 facet bricks would have been perfect but they aren't made in dark red.  So I took to doing some SNOT with inverted 45° slopes.  Not ideal but it passes.  Also hard to find were the 2x2 round bricks in dark red.  I needed 12.  Only three sellers in the world had enough.  I ordered 15 from Germany but ended up using 10.


On the plus side was the ground floor stone.  This was easily replicated with dark bley 1x2 brick bricks (embossed bricks).  I ordered more than I thought I would need and ended up using every last one.  As a purist I really wanted to do something to replicate the carved stone shield on the back side.  I was browsing through dark red parts and came across a stickered 2x2 tile that had some fine detail work on it.  That was very cool.


Since I was doing the sidewalks, I had to capture the lovely streetscaping against the building's north (long) face.  Much of it was trees but I also worked in the benches, rain swale, bike rack, and a sign post advertising what's currently playing on the main stage.


The silver on black letter tiles from the business card set came in very handy.  At the front entrance is a black mat with grey letters that says Portland Center Stage.  I only had 6x2 studs of area to work with.  I ended up settling for CENTER STAGE in 2 lines.  Under the sidewalk in front of that (on the high street side) I added GERDING THEATER and my website.


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All in all this was a lovely challenge.  The staff at the Theater were great to work with and were very open about letting me make it work on my terms.  Being a purist with an engineer's mind, I did very little in the way of artistic liberties and stayed as true as possible to the aesthetic of the building.  While the little keyhole windows would have been very cool to replicate, 1x2 technic bricks with pin hole in dark red are near impossible to get in any decent quantity without spending a fortune.

If you will be near Powell's Books downtown, walk the block or two up to the Gerding Theater at 11th and Davis.  This model will be on display inside the foyer for a while.  Feel free to stop in and drop a few pennies in the display case for their fund raising campaign.

If you are interested in having your building done out of LEGO, contact me for details.  This is a great way to add a lighthearted yet accurate vision to your school, church, hospital, bridge, or megalopolis tower.  Afterwards, raffle off the model for even more fund-raising stratagem!