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  • Exhibit features 350,000 LEGO bricks

    From the Great Pyramids to Cinderella's Castle, our Brick by Brick exhibit houses an impressive set of structures built entirely from LEGO® bricks.

    In total, there are more than 350,000 bricks on display - plus plenty to build with, too!

    The builds

    All of the structures in the exhibit (minus the SCI build) were created by Adam Reed Tucker, a Chicago native and one of only 14 LEGO® Certified Professionals in the world.

    Burj Khalifa

    Burj Khalifa, in downtown Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is the tallest building in the world. It is 163 stories tall and contains more than 24,000 windows, as well as the longest elevator in the world. It was built by bundling structures of smaller size for strength, and a Y-shaped buttressed core prevents twisting in the wind.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 12 feet tall
    • Design time: 45 hours
    • Build time: 60 hours
    • Number of bricks: 16,500
    • This is the only model where Adam has used a mathematical expression to visualize the design.

    Cinderella’s Castle

    This theme park icon was designed by Herbert Dickens Ryman, a Disney artist and close friend of Walt Disney. Forced perspective makes this structure appear larger than it is. The windows and bricks on upper levels are made smaller to seem farther away. Steel framed construction and a 10-inch-thick concrete wall lie beneath the ornate façade and allow this building in central Florida, where hurricanes are a threat, to withstand 100 mile-per-hour wind gusts.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 5 feet tall
    • Design time: 145
    • Build time: 230
    • Number of bricks: 36,000
    • Almost every LEGO building technique in Adam’s repertoire has been used in the castle.


    This National Historic Landmark, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is considered the “best all-time work of American architec­ture” by the American Institute of Architects. Completed in 1938, it was built as a private Pennsylvania residence designed to incorporate and complement the surrounding woodland and waterfall. The home is now open to public tours.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 5 feet long
    • Design time: 170 hours
    • Build time: 130 hours
    • Number of bricks: 21,100
    • With a set of careful manipulations, this model comes apart like a puzzle.

    The Gateway Arch

    The Arch is the nation’s tallest memorial and serves as a “Gateway to the West.” It is a catenary curve, with its width and height are equal at 630 feet. Architect Eero Saarinen was selected for the project through an anonymous design competition, and the monument was completed in 1965. Visitors can travel to the top of the Arch via an elevator system.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 8 feet tall
    • Design time: 25 hours
    • Build time: 30 hours
    • Number of bricks: 7,500
    • Not unlike the real Arch, the model is self-supporting, even without the top sections in place.

    Golden Gate Bridge

    When the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, it was then the longest suspension bridge in the world at 4,200 feet. Built to withstand both wind and earthquakes, each of the bridge’s cables comprises hundreds of wires, anchored for support. A deck truss prevents too much sway, but cables can still move up to 27 feet to accommodate winds.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 60 feet long
    • Design time: 215 hours
    • Build time: 260 hours
    • Number of bricks: 64,500

    Great Pyramid of Giza

    The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and most intact Wonder of the Ancient World: it’s the largest in a compound of buildings paying homage to Pharaoh Khufu and his family. It is believed to have been completed in 2560 B.C., and it remained the tallest human-built structure for nearly 4,000 years, made up of 2.3 million giant bricks in all. How these monumental structures were built remains up for study and debate.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • Almost 12 feet long
    • Design time: 50 hours
    • Build time: 45 hours
    • Number of bricks: 24,000
    • The pieces used in the corners are very rare, only found in a few sets that are no longer produced.

    Hoover Dam

    One of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders, the Hoover Dam was completed in 1935 as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. The dam’s goals were to tame the Colorado River, distribute water to the parched Southwest and provide hydroelectric power. It was constructed as an arch-gravity dam. Arch dams are best for narrow passages between steep rock walls; gravity dams’ massive weight hold back water.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 5 feet long
    • Design time: 215 hours
    • Build time: 160 hours
    • Number of bricks: 42,800
    • Adam experimented with more than six ways to construct this model.

    One World Trade Center

    This building opened on November 3, 2014, as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It extends 1,776 feet into the air, a tribute to the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. Through its design, architects and engineers wanted to pay homage to the original World Trade Center as well as convey resilience and inspire hope.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 10 feet tall
    • Design time: 15 hours
    • Build time: 45 hours
    • Number of bricks: 25,500
    • This model is completely hollow, with no internal structure or interior supports.

    Ping An Finance Center

    Opened in Shenzen, China in 2016, this new super-skyscraper is the country’s tallest at 1,965 feet. The build­ing’s completion marks Shenzen’s rise in population: In 35 years, the city’s population has grown from 300,000 to 10 million. Its sleek stainless steel façade will resist salt corrosion, and the columns provide both visual interest and resistance to wind.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 6 feet tall
    • Design time: 25 hours
    • Build time: 60 hours
    • Number of bricks: 20,250
    • To simulate the rebars (steel rods in concrete), Adam used silver antennas from Star Wars

    Roman Colosseum

    The Colosseum was built in 70-80 A.D. in honor of Titus, Emperor Vespasian’s son. It is the largest amphitheater ever erect­ed, a gift to Roman citizens who would gather in its walls to watch gladiator fights, wild animal shows, re-enactments of battles and more. It could seat an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 patrons, but could empty in minutes because of its ingenious system of 80 entrance/exit arches, corridors and staircases.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • More than 6 feet long
    • Design time: 120 hours
    • Build time: 75 hours
    • Number of bricks: 22,500
    • To get the oval shape just right, the structure was redesigned over a dozen times.

    BONUS: Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater

    The Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater opened in Downtown Des Moines in 2005. The scale replica of is made from 75,000 LEGOs, an example of ingenuity and engineering in action! The builders examined blueprints and used computer aided drafting to sketch the building before they even started constructing it.

    • Designed and built by local LEGO enthusiast Chris Hettinger and the Iowa LEGO Users Group in 2013
    • 8 feet long
    • Number of bricks: 75,000 bricks

    Plan your visit

    In addition to these spectacular LEGO®-built structures, the Brick by Brick exhibit features hands-on building challenges to help you discover your inner builder. Plan your visit today

  • Science is a human right

    Do you believe science is a human right? We do! And on November 10, we join 300+ other science centers and museums around the world to highlight the role we play on our communities.

    International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD) is an international effort to raise awareness and encourage action toward global sustainability, focusing on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which seek to end poverty, fight inequalities, tackle climate change and transform our world – while ensuring that no one is left behind.

    It’s the largest joint project ever launched by the world’s science centers and museums!

    Here are some of the ways we at the Science Center of Iowa are working toward these global goals:

    Zero Hunger

    • Learning where food comes from goes a long way in developing sustainable consumption. Visitors to our Small Discoveries exhibit get the chance to “milk” a cow, “harvest” corn and take it from the farm to the market to the kitchen.

    Good Health & Well-Being

    • Have you ever met our seven-foot tall, blue-haired friend Stuffee? In the program “Meet Stuffee,” visitors are invited to explore the inner-workings of the human body and learn how good nutrition keeps us healthy.
    • A mini exhibit near the Food Chain Café invites diners to investigate what a healthy balance of food and exercise looks like with Power Balance.
    • Namaste beneath a nebula? Yoga Under the Stars provides a weekly opportunity to focus on mental health, a crucial component of well-being.
    • High schoolers who are interested in medical careers get a unique opportunity to watch a live open heart surgery during Live From the Heart, an annual partnership with Des Moines University and Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, IL.

    Gender Equality

    • One of our cornerstone programs, the Girls in Science Initiative is designed to empower and equip girls in science, technology, engineering and math because research shows that, while women are attending and completing college at higher rates than ever before, they remain underrepresented in STEM fields. Girls in Science events provide opportunities for girls to meet and interact with female role models.

    Clean Water & Sanitation

    • How many gallons of bottled water do humans drink each year on average? A mini exhibit near our water fountains on the Main Level highlights the recycling process and encourages visitors to fill up their own reusable bottles.

    Affordable & Clean Energy

    • The power of water is the focus of a well-loved exhibit in When Things Get Moving, where visitors create dams to direct water and “Power Up.”

    Decent Work & Economic Growth

    • Another one of our core programs is the Make@SCI Through onsite programs as well as a highly successful teacher professional development program called “Making STEM Connections,” we use making to introduce people of all ages to the skills and problem-solving techniques they can apply in a modern workforce that’s demanding more and more STEM professionals.

    Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure

    • Our new exhibit, Brick by Brick, features large-scale models made entirely of LEGO® bricks – a feat of innovation in and of itself – but also highlights the challenges that engineers had to overcome when creating the real-life structures. After trying some hands-on building challenges themselves, maybe some our visitors will become engineers, architects and designers who solve the construction challenges of tomorrow!

    Reduced inequalities

    • SCI is committed to reaching new audiences and providing opportunities for access and equity. One of our newest programs, Sensory-Friendly Hours, invites families with children on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing disorders to experience SCI in an environment adapted to meet their needs. On the first Saturday of the month from 8:30-10:00 am (October through May), we provide a quieter, less crowded visit for these families.

    Sustainable Cities & Communities

    • Our impact reaches far beyond our building! SCI programming reaches all 99 counties of Iowa and beyond through our educational outreach program, Science @ Your Site, which brings the excitement of SCI to classrooms and assemblies throughout the state!
    • A new addition to our campus is a bike-share station, B-Cycle, which encourages active transportation around downtown Des Moines.

    Life Below Water + Life On Land

    • Do you know Snippy the Snapping Turtle? Or Peaches the Three-Toed Box Turtle? Our What On Earth? exhibit showcases Iowa’s native habitats and the animals that live in them.
    • An even better way to learn about the natural environments around you is to GET OUTSIDE! The Collectors’ Corner encourages visitors to investigate the world around them by collecting and learning about natural artifacts.
    • The earth has a lot to say… just listen! In our “Global Soundscapes” planetarium show, you can join a team of soundscape ecologists to learn how the sounds around you tell us about the health and well-being of the planet.

    Quality Education

    • Throughout everything we do – whether it’s exhibits, events, school programs or professional development – we aim to engage and inspire Iowans along their journey of lifelong science learning… it’s our mission!

    On International Science Center and Science Museum Day – and every day – we will continue to support our visitors who actively seek information and positive change in our communities. Help us continue to advance our mission by making a tax-deductible contribution before the end of the year!