Last Sunday, my girlfriend and I visited Legoland in Billund. As you probably know if you are interested in LEGO, Billund is the birthplace of LEGO and we live only about 30 km from it.
Therefore, it was only the matter of finding a free day in our busy schedules to go and enjoy the opportunity to visit the oldest Legoland in the world.
But today, I would like to focus on a LEGO set I bought there.
This is assembled set 21033 Chicago. I have this particular set in my wishlist for a long time for one reason. Willis tower (formerly Sears tower) is my most favourite high-rise. And on my visit to Legoland, I bought the whole skyline of Chicago. And I think this set is one of the best in LEGO Architecture series.
First, here is a view on the whole assembly. On the leftmost side, we see the striking red facade of CNA Center (or how LEGO called it ‘Big Red’, although I have never heard that name). Than the tallest one is my all time favourite Willis tower with its dynamic play with floor plates. The tiny silver blob under Willis tower is depiction of Cloud Gate statue. Both sides of the river are connected by DuSable bridge. And on the right bank of the river we can see the Wrigley building and John Hancock Center.
When you open the box, there are 5 unnumbered bags and manual with instructions and short history and facts about Chicago and buildings. With 444 pieces the set took around 2 hours to build, but I was not rushing and also I just spread the bricks all around and did not sort them, so I spent many minutes searching for the right part.
When you open the box, you can also see ‘Enjoy your building experience’ written on a side. This set is clearly marketed for adult builders, who are surely interesting segment of customers for LEGO.
After assembling the baseplate, which is a bit boring I must say, we start with the assembly of CNA Center. The build uses SNOT (stud not on top) bricks on all four sides. Only thing that slightly bothers me is that the facades do not flush at the corner. But otherwise, LEGO designers did a pretty good job, especially the use of red grills to depict the facade creates a unique impression.
The second building is the Willis tower. And I think this is the highlight of the set. Although I am obviously biased about that. One thing is sure. The building and LEGO bricks go incredibly well together. It feels like the building was made for LEGO, since it is basically 3×3 bundled tubes. And that is just like 3×3 baseplate. And the build is incredibly simple. It only consist of black, grey and transparent black pieces stacked on top of each other. The scale of the building is very nice and proportions match with its real life counterpart.
Also I would like to mention little excursion into structural design. The building uses bundled tube system. As you can see on my sketch. There are nine segments, each 25 meters wide, bundled together. These segments support each other and that allows for a open space inside each tube.
Under the base of Willis tower, we can see a small blob depicting the Cloud Gate statue. This is probably the closest Lego can get from standard part kit and I think everybody who know a thing or two about Chicago can recognize it.
Between the banks of the river, DuSable bridge spans the distance. I especially like the use of transparent blue and green under it, to depict the colour of not so clear river water in big cities. And the bridge itself is also very nice, plus it can be lowered, because it is on hinges.
On the right bank, there is a Wrigley building. I must admit I do not know thins building much, but from the photos, I can say that its recreation in LEGO is fine. The wedge shape was quite a challenge I believe, but the outcome is adequate. I would highlight the use of SNOT bricks on top as a clock tower, that is a very nice detail.
The building also cleverly uses rotating 2×2 to create the angle, which is nice advanced technique.
And the last building on the far right is a John Hancock Center. This build cleverly uses hinges both on top and hidden at the baseplate to create the slight slope on the side facades. And the use of black grills once again visualy depicts the facade. For me, this building is nearly equaly striking as Willis Tower. And it looks much better than older John Hancock center set.
As a conclusion I think this set is a must have for any adult fan of either architecture or LEGO. Architecture enthusiast will enjoy the magnificent outcome, which can serve as a beautiful shelf or office desk piece. And LEGO fans will enjoy clever building techniques which are commonly used in these advanced sets. The price for architecture sets is as usual little higher and many pieces used are small 1×1. But I believe it is worth it.