The folks at DK Publishing were kind enough to send me one of their latest LEGO themed titles last week. As usual, it’s great. It’s been around since September so you may have already seen it in bookstores. If you haven’t, then here’s a sneak peek.
The LEGO Architecture Visual Guide follows in the footsteps of many of DK’s previous LEGO endeavors by taking sets fans know and love, and giving us the dirty details behind them. This time around we’re taking a look at the Architecture sets LEGO has been releasing since 2008 (I know that because there is a handy timeline right at the front of the book) (also because I am smart and awesome). Much like the Visual Dictionaries for LEGO Star Wars, Harry Potter, (or the majority of DK’s books), this Guide gives readers a multi-page in depth look at each model in the Architecture theme. It may be a little too in-depth for the youngsters to fully enjoy, there are also plenty of fun pictures to look at as well.
Before diving into the contents, let’s take a look at the book itself. The cover photo at the top of this post is actually the cover of the thick hard case slip cover. I mention its thickness because it’s pretty heavy duty, offering excellent protection for the book. The spine of the slipcase is nicely labeled and the rest of it is nicely decorated making it stand out on a coffee table or easily blend seamlessly among other books on a shelf.
As you can see, the core book itself is also adorned with a pretty thick hardcover. The pages themselves are a heavy gloss finish, making the colors and text pop out easily. Overall, the production quality of the book is high and can be felt in its weight. This is no light book.
Ok, so let’s go inside.
Each model has 10 dedicated pages, all spread across facing pages so things are large and laid out in a way that makes taking in all the info easy and pleasant. The progression of the information is the same for each model, giving readers plenty of background information, and detailed breakdowns of the pieces.
Readers are first greeted by a very minimally artistic, but striking title page for the model. I wasn’t able to capture it well enough with my phone’s camera, so to the left you can see only the right facing page of the Leaning Tower of Pisa model. The left side just has the title of the building, so you’re not missing much. The LEGO version of the model is featured on every right facing page.
Turning the page, you’ll find a picture of the model juxtaposed with real thing – a reader’s first look at the contrast between our little plastic versions and the large as life buildings themselves. The text shares thoughts from the model’s designer/builder and some of the challenges faced with attempting to recreate some incredibly complex architecture with limiting brick shapes. Information about the real building such as the original architect, style, square footage, and the year it was built are found in the captions beneath the photo. Dedicated builders will enjoy reading how the designers worked around the confines of the LEGO shapes to create a believable replica.
Next, we have a few pages dedicated to just showcasing the model from a few different angles. The smaller paragraph of text points out how some certain aspects of the original building are represented in LEGO form. Interesting parts of the build are labeled with details, and the top right corner shows the production details of the set, like designer, release date, and number of bricks, to name a few. (see below)
The next few pages probably offer the most interesting part of the book – breaking the buildings apart, exposing the LEGO construction. The “In Focus” section literally pulls the model apart almost layer by layer, and points out what some of the LEGO pieces represent and why they were particularly chosen for the model. It should be noted not all the models have these pages simply because of the way the model is built isn’t conducive to a pull-apart. Among those are the Sydney Opera House (because it’s mostly flat), and UN Headquarters (because the tower is just simplistic bricks). But the majority of the models have it.
Yes, these pages are sideways and will require you to rotate the book into portrait mode to properly view.
Lastly, read about the real thing on “The Original” pages.
If you haven’t traveled the world and visited these majestic versions of architecture, then these pages are the next best thing. While there aren’t a litany of photos, the few provided give readers an excellent vantage point of what makes these buildings architecturally unique. A few paragraphs of text share some details and history of the building. This is especially interesting for some of the older buildings. I was especially tickled by the one for the Empire State Building where the owner of the land it was to be built on asked the architect “How tall can you make it without it falling down?”
Noteworthy also is the introduction to the book. Readers will find profiles of the various artists behind these architectural marvels, and a fun glossary of pieces most used and referred to in the models. What I found most fascinating were the few pages showing the Falling Waters house in development. It shows several iterations and designs being tested, some quite large. But ultimately all the models have found a certain, consistent look that captures their originality.
I’ll confess, I don’t own any of these – when they began being released I was heavily obsessed with the LEGO City theme (and still am), I thought these were kind of dumb. But, having read through this book and seeing all the models that have been released kind of makes me regret feeling like that. I think these would make a great collection. So, if you’re a fan of these, then this book is a must have companion.
LEGO Architecture: The Visual Guide – A