New York City Brick by Brick: The Art of LEGO Construction
Abrams, May 2019
Hardcover | 7-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches | 192 pages | 100 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1419734687 | $24.99
New York City Brick by Brick is the ultimate exploration of the architecture and history of New York City through the creative medium of LEGO. Expert builder Jonathan Lopes presents iconic structures of his own design, including the Flatiron Building, the Woolworth Building, the Manhattan Bridge, Grand Central Terminal, Junior’s Diner, brownstones, fire houses, and much more! Each model has been beautifully photographed with full-scale views and close-up details, as well as brief instructional breakouts. Lopes’s masterful constructions will inspire builders of all ages.
If there were ever a toy destined to be loved by architects, it’s LEGO, the plastic construction toy first created in Denmark in 1949. After all, what are the building blocks of Lego called? Bricks. And what better to build with than a brick? Appropriately, some architects use Legos to build architectural models and one architect was slated with creating the Lego House in Billund (of course, a Lego kit was made for that very Lego-inspired building). Architects have also created special Lego architecture kits, and books devoted to Lego architecture have been published. Most recent is New York City Brick by Brick, which presents a couple-dozen NYC buildings made out of Legos by artist Jonathan Lopes. Some of them are quite big: a photo of Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building in the Introduction is a good foot-and-a-half taller than the Lego artist/author!
The many Lego builds shared in the book fall into four chapters: A Historic Skyline, Neighborhoods, Firehouses, and New York City-Inspired LEGO Art. The super-sized constructions fall into the first chapter, including Woolworth but also Grand Central Terminal and Chrysler Building, both of which are included as a double-sized poster. With Grand Central Terminal, for example, requiring 62,500 pieces to construct, Lopes does not provide step-by-step instructions on the buildings in the book, but he does provide them for some details. For Grand Central he shows how he builds the steel girders, which use fairly standard pieces but display their backs (or is it bottoms?) to provide some appropriate visual detail. A couple surprises in the book include Ennead’s Rescue 3 in the Bronx, a contemporary “now” building accompanied by its “then” precursor; and “High Line: Then and Now” in the last chapter, which incorporates Neil Denari’s HL23 (not an easy one to figure out, I’m guessing) and manages to capture the feeling of the raised park through the appealing yet admittedly limited means of Lego bricks.
Jonathan Lopes is an artist who works within the medium of LEGO bricks. He has done commissions—large and small—for private groups, nonprofit organizations, galleries, book publishers, authors, and retail shops as well as for Toys “R” Us and the LEGO Group itself.