The Oldish Man and the Sea of Legos

Of all the quotes floating in the architectural aether, his I can most appreciate – and perhaps least relate.

“I love to build things. Always have. As a child Legos were a favorite toy. I always felt a sense of accomplishment completing each challenge that had originally seemed so insurmountable. This love went from toys to sculpture to furniture and ultimately led me to the world of architecture.”

I love to build things. Always have. As a child, Legos were my favorite toy. I always felt a sense of accomplishment after turning loose piles of colored plastic hand-candy into… reordered piles of the same. Only rarely would they emulate the challenge-to-be on the box cover.

Step 47 would frustrate, when that 1×2 grey grill needed to go precisely there but hid from me instead. Or the 1×1 cube with the hook on the side from step 297 that must go there or my Lego bin would erupt in plastic fury. And so, I often abandoned the booklet meant for 5 year olds and just started building.

I envisioned once an 18-inch tall robot with articulated limbs. I even started imagining his voice. My willpower made it up to the knee and quit. Those hinge pieces pulled the sock-in-the-dryer trick and just disappeared. I needed those hinges. RoboLego needed those hinges!

My brothers always invented cooler stuff, anyways. We reminisced over Construx last Christmas; they built vehicles with rotating weaponry; a spaceship with vertical wings and even a docking platform below, complete with slots for the wings. Coffee mug in hand, I built something with 2 seats, 5 axles, and maybe 20 wheels – half of everything kept falling off. Took me hours…

And I was 2 years into a graduate degree in design.

Odd as it is, give me a hammer and some wood, or a shovel and some dirt, and enthusiasm fuels me; meanwhile, my coffee gets cold.

Lakeside this summer, under canopy of green, swimming in breezes that rolled waves against the shore and sounded wooden chimes, I wanted to work, and our outdoor fireplace burned for a redesign. So, with a friend, I planned a general layout and grabbed some scrap wood. I doubted the layout, but I planned some benches. I doubted the benches, but I cut their frames. I doubted the frames, but they went together in seconds. Thank my dad for having a table saw and pneumatic nail gun in the middle of the woods.

The layout worked. The benches worked. The whole experience worked.

My Lego-love did not set me on a smooth path into architecture. Looking back on five studios, I see the same 8 year-old with the same frustrations. Give me a bucket of Legos, and I’ll return the same. Give me a studio, and I’ll return to you a convoluted concept partially executed. In school or in play, I often mire in my thoughts, paralyzed by second-guessing.

How is it that things work when I can manipulate them, when I can start moving something and design along the way? How is it that I haven’t translated this to other projects yet?

I wonder how common a problem this is.

Does it get better out of school?



My proudest Lego moment

I feel like this all the time.

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