Architect Keith Olsen gave South Beach’s iconic art deco buildings the Lego treatment by using more than 1,000 of the popular plastic toy bricks. Now he’s on a mission to get his pastel creation in front of the Danish toy company’s decision-makers.
Olsen’s Miami Beach Art Deco Skyline model includes replicas of the Marlin Hotel and Delano on Collins Avenue and the Hotel Breakwater South Beach and Hilton Grand Vacations at McAlpin-Ocean Plaza on Ocean Drive. The set neatly places them side-by-side. To give the model that extra Art Deco District flair, it also comes with Lego palm trees, sidewalk umbrella tables, retro cars, and an ocean with crashing waves.
“I have always loved the art deco style, from the Chrysler Building in my hometown of New York to the streamlined office towers and movie palaces where I went to college in Los Angeles,” Olsen says. “But when I had the chance to visit Miami Beach, there was a real treasure trove of art deco, with amazing buildings around every corner.
“I also loved the color and playfulness in the historic buildings of Miami Beach, which I felt translated well in Lego form. More than replicating individual buildings, I wanted my model to capture the life and spirit of Miami Beach,” says Olsen, who resides in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Olsen loved Legos when he was younger and rekindled that flame in his 40s. His parents bought each of his three children Lego sets for Christmas and gave him one as well. Considering his interest when he was a kid, they figured he’d like a set for himself and would enjoy helping his children put them together. Clearly, they were right.
The Marlin Hotel in Miami Beach.
Photos by Keith Olsen
Inspired by the Lego Architecture series, Olsen began creating his own highly detailed replicas. His dream is to see his work available in stores, which is why he submitted his Miami Beach Art Deco Skyline model on ideas.lego.com. But in order for his set to get a serious look from the company, it must first earn at least 10,000 votes. Olsen says receiving support on his Facebook page has been no problem, but having people take one or two minutes to register for the Lego Ideas website to vote is a different story. He previously submitted ideas for a Grand Central Terminal in New York City and a Vanna Venturi House in Philadelphia that failed to earn the necessary votes.
“Grand Central got quite a bit of support, but [it] was missing the color and details that make my Miami Beach [set] more fun and whimsical,” he says.
He hopes the third time’s the charm. “It is a dream of almost every Lego fan to have one of their creations become an actual Lego set sold in stores, and such big dreams take a lot of effort to become real.”