Building a detailed model of Philly, block by Lego block [gallery]

The city of Philadelphia is now being rendered in Lego.

Every building in Center City – from Race Street down to Spruce Street, from river to river – is being recreated in little white blocks, from the towering column of the Comcast building down to the bars on Third Street. From the trees in Rittenhouse Square to the diamond ears atop Commerce Square.

It’s not easy to find existing Lego pieces that resemble Philadelphia’s architectural flair.

“For example, they have this little piece right here which is a Lego guy’s hand,” said Lego enthusiast Levi Buffum, pointing to a little forearm sticking up Centre Square. “That’s what I used to represent [Claes Oldenburg’s] “Clothespin” outside of City Hall.”

The model is about five feet long and about two feet wide, and about 80 percent finished; Buffum, the model’s designer and builder, has several city blocks around Washington Square to complete. He says he will have used about 20,000 pieces by the time it’s finished.

Buffum has been at it for a few months. The freelance graphic designer works on it when is regular (i.e. paid) work computing 3D models of patent designs gets slow. He doesn’t know what he will do with it when it’s finished.

“I’d love to display it. I hadn’t thought that far,” said Buffum in his home in Media which he shares with Einstein, his corgi. “I’m just doing it for fun. Keeps my mind active when I’m frustrated with work.”

Buffum did not have to leave his desk to build the model. He used Google Earth as reference.

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