The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, arguably America's greatest architect, and is one of his finest works. It is therefore a fitting subject for a LEGO Architecture model.
It's not the first time the building has been modelled: 21004 Solomon Guggenheim Museum, designed by Adam Reed Tucker and released 2009 was one of the first Architecture sets. For this review I cut the seals on my MISB copy so you can see the two side-by-side.
Box and contents
Like all Architecture (and Ideas) sets the box is high-quality, has a flip-top and is not destroyed on opening. Inside are 744 pieces packaged in several unnumbered bags and a 168-page perfect-bound instruction booklet that also contains information about the architect and the building. I learned, for example, that by the time it opened in 1959 both Solomon R. Guggenheim and Frank Lloyd Wright had died.
Parts-wise, there are some interesting recently-introduced elements, such as a 1x3 panel and 2x3 tiles. Rather than go into too much detail, I'll refer you to New Elementary's excellent review for more information about them.
I've taken quite a few pictures of the model under construction so you can see how it goes together and some of the interesting building techniques used.
Construction begins, as you'd expect, at the base. Notice that it does not have a printed tile with the name of the building. You'll see why later.
1xn panels form a wall at the front and sides, then olive green tiles are placed at half-stud offsets above their bases to position their edges close to the walls of the panels.
The first floor is constructed as a subassembly.
Curved slopes are used to form its distinctive shape. The building's name is printed on a 1x8 tile and a 2x2 curved slope, hence negating the need for the name on the base.
The circular section on the right is then built up a layer at a time, along with the tan administrative block at the back.
The admin block may look simple from the outside but inside it's full of SNOT, bars and clips.
Positioning the 1x1 tiles on the front of admin block and getting them all square is not a lot of fun but once done it looks very effective.
The outside of the circular gallery is formed using different sized curved slopes in four layers and on the whole looks very effective. The top layer perhaps less-so, partly due to the 2x1 cheese slopes on the corners being held on with just one stud which makes them susceptible to misalignment.
The completed model
Once the dome is in place and the yellow cabs in 5th Avenue have been added, the model is complete.
The back is plain but not featureless. I particularly like the windows on the edge.
Doors on the admin block provide access from street level and also onto the roof.
Compared to 21004 Solomon Guggenheim Museum
21004 Solomon Guggenheim Museum was released some 8 years ago when the Architecture line was very much finding its feet. It's easy to compare the two versions and dismiss the early one as rubbish, but at the time it was groundbreaking.
What surprised me most when building it is that it is constructed almost entirely studs-up and SNOT-free. The 6x6 dishes on the right are mounted upside-down on a Technic axle: that's as far as it goes. Nevertheless the basic shape of the building has been captured reasonably well, particularly given the smaller palette of parts available at the time and Adam's desire to capture the essence of the building using conventional building techniques and parts.
If you want printed tiles on the base of the new model you could always borrow them from this one...
This is an outstanding model of a beautiful building and is without doubt one of the best Architecture sets LEGO has released.
The curved and non-symmetrical nature of the building has resulted in a model that's packed with interesting building techniques with very little repetition in the construction process, something that can often be an issue with Architecture models.
Aligning 1x1 pieces squarely is something you have to get used to and good at if you want your Architecture models to look their best. The fascia of the tan admin block at the back requires patience to build and I'm sure if you look closely at my pictures you'll notice a few tiles that are not perfectly aligned. However, this, and the windows on the corner of the block, are the only part of the build that demands such precision, so it's not as bad as some models in that regard.
A great build and an excellent display piece, what's not to like?
I'll leave you with more pictures of this beauty and recommend that you head over to shop.LEGO.com to buy one:
Here's JANGBRICKS' video review: