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Q & A with Our Very Own LEGO® Master

There is no age limit to enjoying LEGO, and our Principal | Partner, David Higginson (Dave) is proof of that. He regularly wows SGH Architects staff and visitors to our office in Redlands, CA with his LEGO prowess. Before you ask, the answer is no, Dave has never watched even one episode of LEGO Masters, the new LEGO building television competition.

So, we had to know:
Q. When did you first begin building with LEGO?
A. Probably around 1992. I began buying LEGO bricks for my son Brian, who was around seven years old. I started building the LEGO architecture sets around 2009 just after they were first introduced.

Q. What is your favorite thing to build?
A. The architecture sets. However, I do enjoy building some of the specialty LEGO sets. I bought one called the “Old Fishing Store,” which was not part of the architecture series. However, it was simply fun to build and is displayed in my study at home, along with a lot of other fishing decorations.

Q. Where do you build?
A. I usually take over the kitchen table for a week, much to the dismay of my wife!

Q. What is the largest project you’ve built? How long did it take you, in hours, to build?
A. The Taj Mahal* LEGO probably took me a total of 10 hours to build. I worked on it for about 1 hour a night for a week and a half.

Q. Do you have help?
A. When I build a LEGO structure, it provides a total escape from everything else I do. Some of the models are pretty intricate. You must follow the assembly steps exactly, or you end of missing pieces or things do not fit as they should. So, the answer is no. When I do construct the LEGO sets, it is totally by myself!

Q. What is the appeal of LEGO? (Relaxing, exciting, challenging, escape from the daily grind, etc.) A. All of them apply!

Q. Do you preserve your builds with glue or something, or do you like to disassemble them and rebuild them, like puzzles?
A. Never use glue!!! You want to be able to disassemble if needed. I keep all the original boxes and detailed instructions for each set I build. Possibly one day, my future grandchildren will enjoy re-assembling them.

Q. LEGO introduced LEGO Architecture designs in 2008, what was the first famous building you built?
A. Falling Water. One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most iconic buildings.

Q. How many of the architecture sets have you built?
A. Around 10. My focus was more on the most advanced sets. I want to go back and get some of the simple ones just to complete my collection.

Q. What is your favorite LEGO architect project?
A. Out of all the sets, my favorite one to build was the Robie House, released in 2011.

Q. What is your next LEGO architect project?
A. LEGO recently released sets for the Dubai and Tokyo skyline. Those are on my radar!

A. Have you ever had a LEGO ‘disaster’ (i.e., you’ve completed a project or portion of one, and someone or something knocks it over, or you drop it, etc.) What happened?
A. When I moved the models from my former office, several parts on all the buildings disconnected and required rebuilding. Another reason to keep the instructions!

Q. Have you ever designed something as an architect and then modeled it with LEGO?
A. Not yet. When time allows, I would thoroughly enjoy doing that.

Q. How does LEGO help you as an architect if it does in any way?
A. Architects enjoy creating spaces that people appreciate. Any form of creating something, as simple as a LEGO model, stimulates thought about how, especially in the practice of architecture, it takes many pieces to create a building.

Q. Some studies show that children who play with LEGO are naturally curious and seem to enjoy and do particularly well in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Do you have any thoughts about that as an adult with an affinity for LEGO building and who designs for educational spaces?
A. I recently participated in a charter school activity in which the students came together as a team and were creating sustainable model cities using LEGO’s. If this form of activity generates genuine interest in the profession of architecture, that affirms my appreciation for the product even more! LEGO, as part of its mission platform, makes the following statement, “We want to play our part in building a sustainable future and making a positive impact on the planet our children will inherit.”  https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/sustainability/environment/  This amazing company foundational statement keeps with the same approach architects want for future generations.

Q. Anything else you want to add?
A. I love the quote by George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

*The Taj Mahal has almost 5,900 pieces and is one of the largest LEGO models ever.