One of my favorite things about San Francisco is its architecture. Though shops have closed and the streets are nearly empty, some of the city’s most vibrant buildings still stand. Just off Market Street, you’ll find the Castro Theatre, whose majesty has been translated into LEGO by Jonathan Lopes. Since 1922, the Castro Theatre has hosted everything from queer cinema to silent film festivals at the center of San Francisco’s vibrant arts scene and historic LGBTQ+ district. Like in Jonathan’s model, you can’t miss its iconic neon signage and stunning Spanish-Baroque facade.
The Aarhus Royal Custom House in Denmark is said to be architect Hack Kampmann’s finest work. Now, this massive minifigure-scale tribute may be the finest work of LEGO builder Poul-Erik Borre. The design is exceptionally like the actual building, but it’s even more than that. The color and texture work is impressive. Additionally, there is some awesome parts usage going on to create the angles. As someone who has tried to build complicated roofs before, I know this is no easy feat. The use of the modified 1×2’s with flexible tips to get the right shape for the rounded peaks is my favorite aspect.
There is a Youtube tour of the model promised for the future. In the meantime, take a look at Boore’s medieval village, which is featured in the LEGO House.
Replicas are a dangerous business. Sometimes they look too good, and people mistake them for the real thing (I think of the elder Dr. Jones breaking a “Ming Dynasty” vase in The Last Crusade), but sometimes they are horribly disappointing (see most full-size car replicas). But when the replica is made in a different medium than the original, it is easy to tell it apart from the real one while still looking good. This lovely fire engine by Jens Ohrndorf is a striking example. Made to imitate a classic wooden toy, it checks all the boxes: simple figures that slot into place; a moving ladder; the wheels really spin; and it is red. But it’s not wood, but genuine ABS plastic LEGO bricks. With nary a stud showing, it is exceptionally clean, and a casual observer could be forgiven for thinking it something else but LEGO. That’s the point. It’s a replica. And an exceptionally good one at that.