Review: 21035 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Posted by ,
View image at flickr

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.


Construction

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

The first floor is constructed as a subassembly.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

The circular section on the right is then built up a layer at a time, along with the tan administrative block at the back.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

The admin block may look simple from the outside but inside it's full of SNOT, bars and clips.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr


The completed model

Once the dome is in place and the yellow cabs in 5th Avenue have been added, the model is complete.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

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.View image at flickr

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

View image at flickr


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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

If you want printed tiles on the base of the new model you could always borrow them from this one...


Verdict

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:

USA ($79.99) | UK (£64.99) | Canada ($99.99)

Or, from Amazon.co.uk where it's currently 15% off, at £54.99.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr


Video review

Here's JANGBRICKS' video review:

19 comments on this article

Gravatar
By in Sweden,

I might get this one!

Gravatar
By in Switzerland,

Perfect timing - just received mine today and will commence building very soon.
Looks like a winner to me!

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I prefer skyscrapers (my personal favourite is the burj khalifa) and admittedly this review, in particular the square cladding, has sealed that I don't want to get it, but excellent review nevertheless. I really appreciate the comparison, too.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Thanks Huw!! This has been one of my all-time favorite architectural wonders since my childhood when I was turned onto a future career in architecture by a book that featured this building. I'll finally be going to NYC for the first time this summer and will spend some time in the Guggenheim celebrating my 40th birthday. I'll bring the 21305 set home as a souvenir for sure! Great review of this wonderfully accurate model.

Gravatar
By in Venezuela,

Great review

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Great review. They are so much better when they include construction stage pictures. I don't understand why all reviews don't include that - especially the UCS ones.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I'm glad that those who wanted another re-release are happy. How do lego decide what to re-release? is is just what can be made from the current pieces being churned out? or perphas it's something else. Be interested in the official response which supports this re-release without doing others which may (will be) more popular. Come on Lego , up your game.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I've seen so many reviews of this in the past few days, but this one is definitely my favorite! I love this set and hope to pick it up :)

Gravatar
By in United States,

Excellent review! Thanks for the photos showing its construction. Beautiful model. And look at the size of that thing! (Compared to the 2009 model.) I really enjoyed JANGBRiCKS' video review, too--I watched it a few days ago. I only wish he showed the construction of the model a little.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I think the comparison between the two versions is interesting and shows how it is increasingly hard to tell that some current models are even made of Lego. Whether this is a good thing is a matter of opinion I guess.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Excellent review, this is sitting in my pile of sets waiting to be built as I got it with triple VIP points last week.

IMO the construction photos aren't really needed as I prefer to be surprised, although probably appropriate for this set. Each to their own :)

Gravatar
By in United States,

Great review! Looks like a very fun build, so I think I must add it to my Architecture collection.

Gravatar
By in United States,

$80 is way too much. $70 is way more fitting.

Gravatar
By in Australia,

What a Masterpiece! Those 1x1 tiles are the stuff of nightmares though.

Gravatar
By in United States,

have seen it in person. $80 is overprice. you can either get any 2 skyline sets or spend $20 for the U.S. capital. overprice and not very impressive

Gravatar
By in United States,

Nice review. Looks like a pretty solid set!

Gravatar
By in Spain,

I think it is a nice set, but it would be more interesting and amazing one set with the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain), designed by the Canadian architect Frank O. Gehry.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guggenheim_Museum_Bilbao
It has appeared in films like the James Bond's "The World is not enough".
It would be a really challenge to modelize the curves of this unique museum.
People who have influence in LEGO, please, promote it. I am not skilled enough to submit as a Lego Ideas.

Gravatar
By in Indonesia,

Having been to the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, myself I totally agree with HeriSanmi. The building with all it's concave / convex curves and shiny surfaces may proof to be just too intricate to implement in brick, though...

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I've been there too and agree it would be something of a challenge to recreate at an 'Architecture' scale, but it would be awesome if it could be pulled off!

View more reviews »
Return to home page »