LEGO ‘architect’ uses 67,000 pieces to re-create Vatican

Rocco Buttliere with his Vatican City State replica (CNS/Peter Finney Jr, Clarion Herald)

We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but LEGO architect Rocco Buttliere had three months, which gave him a running start over Julius Caesar. Source: CNS.

Working quietly in his Chicago-area home during the lull of the pandemic in 2020, Mr Buttliere cobbled together 67,000 tiny, plastic LEGO pieces to create an improbably realistic 3D replica of Vatican City State.

The 1:650 scale model is so faithful to the cobblestones shaded by Bernini’s colonnade that it even includes a tiny red tile marking the top-floor window of the Apostolic Palace from which Pope Francis recites the Angelus each Sunday.

For a kid who began playing with his two older brothers’ LEGO sets as child and who even brought his LEGOs to college while pursuing a degree in architecture, those 800 hours he spent last year were the cornerstones of one his greatest artistic achievements.

“What inspired me was just the fact that there’s almost 4,000 years of human history represented in the architecture and the museums and the artifacts themselves,” Mr Buttliere, 26, said.

“That level of spiritual resonance was something that really made me want to tackle the whole (city state),” he told the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Since he began tinkering with LEGO sets — taking apart the sets and using loose bricks to craft his own works — Mr Buttliere has created more than 60 different models and managed to make a full-time living based on traveling exhibitions and commissions.

He is nearing completion on his most ambitious work yet — a 1:650 model of first-century Jerusalem — for a museum in Brazil. That work is composed of 114,000 pieces and has taken eight months.


Architect turns 67,000 tiny LEGO pieces into Vatican City State replica (By Peter Finney Jr, Clarion Herald via CNS

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