THE SHOE, BLOCK BY BLOCK
LEGO Hobbyist Spent 2 Years Building Model of Ohio Stadium
January 15, 2011
By Amy Saunders
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
The dome of the rotunda, the Script Ohio looping across the scoreboard video
screen, the archways lining the stadium that is shaped, of course, like a
In near-exact detail, Paul Janssen created all the curves of Ohio Stadium using
1 million LEGO bricks - which, if you remember, are mostly rectangular.
The building is not square at all, so it was a big challenge, he said. But
its so much more satisfying if you can accomplish something thats hard.
Janssen recently finished his 8-foot-by-6-foot masterpiece, having spent 1,000
hours over nearly two years building it in his Dublin basement. No cutting,
gluing or painting was involved in making the replica, the scale of which is
The 42-year-old began plotting his work in 2005, three years after he was hired
as an associate professor of physiology and cell biology at Ohio State
Growing up in the Netherlands, where the Danish-made interlocking blocks are
especially popular, Janssen loved building LEGO trains in his youth but took a
hiatus from the hobby until moving to the United States a decade ago.
Having three children of his own - ages 10, 8 and 3 - became an excuse to buy
new toys. The familys basement - aside from a washer, dryer and a kitty-litter
box - is now consumed by containers of LEGO stacked nearly from floor to
Janssens friends in the Central Ohio LEGO® Train Club,
for which he serves as president, once mentioned in passing the possibility of
building an Ohio Stadium replica. But few would attempt such a large and
detailed undertaking, member Ben Coifman said.
Its flat-out insane to build something like that, said Coifman, an associate
professor of civil engineering at OSU. But thats part of what we love Paul
To plan the project, Janssen studied stadium measurements and satellite images,
often taking photos of the press box or other details during football games. (He
didnt really understand the sport at first but is now a fan and a season-ticket
He spent more than three years acquiring the necessary LEGO, often improvising:
Dragon horns from a LEGO castle kit are part of the rotunda decor; chrome truck
parts serve as pipes extending from the stadium bathrooms.
Many pieces were purchased or traded through an online marketplace,
Bricklink.com; others were already part of his collection.
Had Janssen bought all new parts, he figures the project would have cost $50,000
Construction began in May 2009, when Janssen assembled 450,000 pieces for the
models base. The stadium itself can be divided into 10 pieces, each weighing up
to 50 pounds.
Building to scale was often a challenge, given that Janssen couldnt re-size
LEGOs to fit his calculations. He spent 15 hours constructing the east side of
the stadium before deciding to dismantle it, unhappy with the steepness of the
I would have been disappointed forever if I built it like that, he said.
Most of the construction was completed on weekends, from 5 a.m. until his family
woke up about 9. With LEGO projects often being repetitive, Janssen says he can
also accomplish academic work while putting blocks together.
Im thinking about research; Im thinking about papers, he said. Im working
and playing at the same time.
His wife, Anita, declined to discuss the hobby, saying it isnt about her. But
what about how the LEGO have invaded the basement?
Its probably best I dont comment on that, she said half-jokingly.
Janssen hopes to display his work on campus and to use it in fundraising for his
research on heart failure and muscular dystrophy. The stadium can be filled with
up to 6,000 LEGO people, he says, each of which could represent a donor.
He hasnt decided on his next LEGO project, although hes talking about possible
additions to the stadium display: the BCS and Heisman trophies; and, if
eventually installed permanently in the real Horseshoe, lights.
I cannot sit still, Janssen said. If I wasnt doing this, Id be doing
something else at an intense level - Id work 20-hour days or something like
I cant watch TV for more than half an hour. Well, except if its a football
OHIO STADIUM: THE NUMBERS
1 million estimated number of LEGO pieces used to build the Ohio Stadium
450,000 number of LEGO pieces in the base.
6,000 number of Lego people who can fit in the stadium.
1,000 number of hours invested in the project by Paul Janssen.
15 hours Janssen worked on the east side of the stadium before deciding to
start over on that part.
10 sections into which the stadium can be divided.
2 years needed for construction.
Photos of LEGO Horseshoe
-end of report-
1 Message in This Thread:
- Entire Thread on One Page:
All | Brief | Compact | Dots
All | Brief | Compact