Standing at 3-and-a-half feet in a Chicago apartment, the UT Tower stands tall. Not far in a guest bedroom lies a 2-and-a-half foot tall Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. UT alumnus Drew Finkel created these two campus landmarks out of more than 62,000 Legos combined.
After posting pictures on Reddit of his Lego replicas of the Tower and the stadium, Drew’s hobby went viral. When the University tweeted a link to pictures of the stadium replica, Drew replied that UT was welcome to borrow it. According to Laura Finkel, Drew’s wife, the University jumped at the opportunity.
“I’m surprised at how much attention this has received,” Laura said. “We have had so many media outlets reach out to us to do interviews on it.“
Exactly when the stadium will be brought to UT and where it will be displayed has not been confirmed, but Drew believes it will be in the Student Services Building.
“I built the stadium in multiple pieces because I knew that, wherever it was built, I didn’t want it to have to live there forever,”
Drew started the Tower, which took about five months to complete, in March 2013 and started the stadium this year. In the past, he had only worked on small, 4-inch tall Lego replicas of landmarks such as Big Ben, which had instructions.
“It was starting to become winter and it was a little cold outside, and I just said, ‘Hey, I think I’m going to build the UT tower out of Legos,’” Drew said. “It was said as a joke, like maybe we’ll see, and then I started doing it, and it actually happened.”
According to Laura, it is not unusual to want to stay inside when it is minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Just imagine someone who’s knitting in front of the TV — he does the same things for Legos,” Laura said. “It didn’t interfere with anything just because the winters are so awful here, and I think it was his way of coping with the seasons here.”
Drew used images from Google Maps to build the Tower and traveled to campus during spring break to take his own pictures, filling in the holes for any views he did not have.
“For the stadium, the hardest part was doing the inside because there is not a lot on Google Maps or images that I could find of the inside,” Drew said. “Luckily, all of the sides of the stadium are on the street, so using Street View was pretty helpful for that.”
For now, when people visit his apartment, they are surprised to see Lego replicas. Drew’s friend Richard Meth, software engineer and UT alumnus living in Dallas, saw most of the process through pictures and when he visited Chicago.
“He set his mind to it and finished it,” Meth said. “I didn’t realize how much effort he put into it until I saw it and helped him finish off DKR. To fit his design, Drew had cut and pieced together thousands of little Lego pieces. It took time and patience, but, in the end, both models look outstanding.”