Grown Men… Playing With Bricks

This post really has nothing to do with Revit.  It barely has anything to do with technology, but bear with me.

I gotta tell you.  It’s been a rough couple weeks at the office.  I’m not going to go into detail, but let’s just say it all comes down to a word that rhymes with… um… OK, nothing rhymes with economy.

In order to keep some sanity, I took some “me time” and played with some toys I got for Christmas.  I’m a little surprised that it took me this long to get them out of their boxes.  But it was worth it.

Putting together Lego sets has always been therapeutic for me, and I have absolutely dug the Lego Architecture line.  This Christmas, I was lucky enough to get the Brandenburg Gate, Burj Khalifa, and the gorgeous Farnsworth House.  That last one took a LONG time getting all those little tiles to line up nicely.

It was nice adding them to the collection.

So, being the completist I am, I now just need a couple more sets and I am up to date.

Strange for a middle aged man to play with Lego sets to unwind?  Maybe.  Could some therapist have a fun time establishing a connection between playing with Legos now and attempting to retreat into a childlike state by fixating and obsessing over toys that someone might have enjoyed in his youth?  I don’t know, but I bet that was a run-on sentence.

Sometime ago, I was inspired by my first Lego Architecture set and thought I would try my hand at creating our office building as a Lego set.  Well, I didn’t have nearly enough Legos, but I did have access to Lego Digital Designer, which gives you a virtual box of unlimited bricks to create with!  Beyond that, it will also let you upload your design, check if it meets certain criteria, and then get your own custom Lego set sent to your door.

This last step ended up being quite expensive, however, so instead, I tracked down an open source rendering engine that was specifically tweaked to render exported Lego models.  There are many resources on the web to help a nerd out getting started in POV-Ray.

Anyway, after about a weekend of modelling and then another figuring out how to render, I came up with the below shot and was pretty happy with it.  Thought you might get a kick out of it, too.  It was fun abstracting the features down to toy-size and figuring out what was architecturally important and iconic.  I had to stick our mini green roof in there, for example, and while there might not be precisely the right number of skylights, there are enough to properly evoke the design intent.

So, yeah.  Some technology stuff sneaked in, didn’t it?  Lego Digital Designer is quite the fancy tool.  I would be pushing it if I tried to compare it to Revit, but they are on the same family tree… just on branches that are very very far from each other.

Quick edit: turns out you can’t buy your custom designs from Lego anymore.  That makes me a little sad.  Seems like it took a step backwards in time there.