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Brick by Brick

When you think back to your childhood, there are some things that most everyone can relate to: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, riding a bicycle for the first time, the smell of pencil shavings.

And then there’s Legos. Who hasn’t sat down and created something out of the well-loved bricks? In 2015, Lego replaced Ferrari as Brand Finance’s “World’s Most Powerful Brand.”

If you’ve spent any time with us, whether inside the studio or online, you have a pretty good understanding that we really like Legos.

This flat file drawer welcomes you in our lobby.

Some of us are into it more than others – AFoLs, you could call us (that’s Adult Fan of Legos for all of you non-AFoLs). You can easily tell who we are because we use words like…AFoL. If you’re really curious, here’s an entire Lego terminology glossary.

But the designs we have on display and the bricks available to play with are not just for our enjoyment – not only do we have employee and consultants’ kids stop by to create, but we bring them into our clients’ lives. Legos, for Hoy + Stark, are used as a design tool.

Of course, we still rely heavily on design software to show projects to our clients. We can zip through beautifully rendered buildings projected on our big screen in the conference room, but sometimes grasping the 3D concept on a flat screen falls, well, flat. A real 3D model, however, is something they can touch, feel, and understand exactly how a building can be put together.

3D models are nothing new for an architecture studio, either – find me an architect who doesn’t bear at least one scar from a late night model-making project in college. But what we like about Legos is that they are recognizable – even clients born in the 1950s can remember them from their childhood because the toy has been around that long. Yes, they can be expensive, but it’s safe to say that almost every client has played with some form of building block structure in their life, whether it’s K’nex, Mega Bloks, Lincoln Logs, or wooden blocks. Legos beg to be played with – a client isn’t afraid to touch, break apart, or manipulate a model made of one.

So how does an architect use Legos? First, you’ve got to think outside of the brick. Legos can be formed into virtually any shape – you’re only limited to how many pieces you have. When you change the way you look at the pieces, you can make what you want (even if it’s a rounded edge).

For me, it always begins with a base. This gives me an idea about the scale. A style usually inspires me – I like to look at architecture magazines, but I also reference my architectural history books from school. Miami Art Deco is a personal favorite and something you will notice when I’m featured in our social media #MakeItMonday posts. And then, I begin to build.

I’ve also had a lot – A LOT – of experience with Lego models. It has certainly given me a better understanding of building with Legos after having completed sets per the instructions. But it’s no wonder that a former practicing architect, Adam Reed Tucker, is a Lego Certified Professional and a business partner in the development of the Lego Architecture product line. We’ve spent years in school understanding the construction of buildings.

But Legos, for me, was a mainstay in my childhood – it’s the one collection I’m still hanging onto. Legos played a huge part in leaning towards architecture – how things go together, how things are built, spacial thinking – all of these things laid the groundwork for what would one day become my career.

So I’m happy to work in a studio where I not only display my buildings but am also encouraged to build outside of the box. Working and playing with Legos – is there a difference? – strips down any barriers or preconceived notions of an architect vs a client. Their playfulness, usefulness, and relatability encourage everyone to be a part of the design process. And that’s ultimately what we want for our clients in every project.

You can follow us on Instagram or Facebook to keep up with our weekly #MakeItMonday Lego design posts.

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