In 2016 I created a model of the Javits Center, home to the famed New York Comic Con, Toy Fair, and the New York Auto Show. My model stands on display inside the real building and in 2023, after the real building completed a major expansion, I updated the model to include the new annex.
Because the building has enormous transparent glass windows all around the façade, I felt the need to build a lot of the building interiors as well, so that if you bend down to look inside, you will be treated with lots of little vignettes and details.
(“No one came to my TED Talk” — above)
The building has an expansive roof deck and a rooftop garden, which were a lot of fun to build at this scale.
Different types of textured gray panels wrap around the building’s façade. To simulate this, I built the entire building with tiny 1×2 bricks that have ridges and grooves in them. These simulate the patterns found in the real building, and break up what would otherwise be a plain flat gray wall of LEGO bricks.
The garden, in particular, is very special to the Javits Center because the food that they grow is used in the building’s kitchens and served to the convention guests. It was fun to use standard LEGO pieces in unusual ways to create the farm area. Do you see the LEGO T-Rex pieces? (Back row, above).
This tiny wheelbarrow is one of my favorite details, built with only 12 pieces.
I also created a bustling city scene on the roads surrounding the building. Using Google Street View and other online maps, I faithfully recreated every single traffic light, lane marking, curb, fire hydrant (etc) along The West Side Highway and the Manhattan waterfront greenway, 11th avenue, and other surround streets.
That said, New York hasn’t properly built this bike lane yet (it’s still just useless paint) so I fixed it for them. 😅 (I’ve got to keep my LEGO cyclists safe from all that Lincoln Tunnel truck traffic!)
11th Avenue Manhattan, in front of the Javits Center
In all, the building annex took about 3 months to design and construct at my studio in Amsterdam. The model is built entirely with standard off-the-shelf LEGO pieces; every piece interconnects to hold the model together properly; there are no “cheats” with with non-LEGO elements or cutting or glue. Steel bars extend through the base and form handles on either side of the model to make it easy to move in three sections.
I designed the model using any information I could find online: satellite photos, photos taken by tourists, floor plans from convention web sites, lots of Google Street View… I even found some panoramas taken inside parts of the building (above) and a drone video which I watched frame-by-frame. The entire model is built in three sections to make it easier to move around.
My wife and kids came and helped on the last day! 🙂. There are over 400 vehicles and over 9,000 little “people” in the model.
The annex, together with the original building, is the size of four picnic tables and contains nearly 200,000 LEGO pieces! This makes it, to date, one of the top 5 largest things I’ve ever created.