ITT student Rocco Buttliere builds scale models of Chicago skyscrapers. (Handout )
At any given moment, Rocco Buttliere has about 200,000 extra Legos sitting in a room at his Buffalo Grove home.
That’s not counting the 125,000 he’s already used to reconstruct Chicago skyscrapers.
The 18-year-old architecture student at the Illinois Institute of Technology has been playing with the plastic bricks since first grade, but in 2009, he started to get serious about building scale models of skyscrapers, many of which are inspired by Chicago.
“When I am looking at a building, I see a section I know would turn out really well,” he said. “That’s what inspires me.”
For his latest project, titled “Colors of Chicago,” Buttliere unveiled six months worth of work by posting a new model of a Chicago skyscraper for six days in late-March. It’s part of about 25 different skyscrapers Buttliere has made, on average consisting of 3,000 to 5,000 pieces and costing $300 to $500, which he funds by mowing lawns on the side. For each model, he places about 15 to 20 separate orders for the bricks needed for the project.
Buttliere said he starts by taking extensive photos of the skyscraper he will recreate, and also uses Google StreetView and Google Earth in order to visualize the building's detail. He then uses a LEGO software program to build a digital replica to help him plan out how he will build each, brick-by-brick.
His most complicated project recently was a scale replica of Marina City Towers, which he said he completed Feb. 14 after about five months of work. He’s also created scale models of the Aon Center, the Carbon and Carbide building and the Chicago Board of Trade.
Next up for Buttliere is displaying his work at the Brickworld LEGO convention in Schaumburg in June, where he has showcased his models for the last two years.
“It’s a really fun convention,” he said. “No one (but other LEGO builders) really know which parts are challenging and which parts are innovative.”
For all of Buttliere’s work, click here.
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