All posts by bruceywan

Los Angeles City Hall

1:200 Scale LEGO Model by Bruce Lowell

Quick links for this page: Image Gallery
History of and Information about City Hall | Why Build City Hall?
History of the Build | Researching the Build | Attention to Detail

Image Gallery

LEGO Los Angeles City Hall

History of and Information about City Hall

Los Angeles City Hall has a rich history. Much ink has been spilled over it, so I only want to highlight a few key facts:
  ∙ Measures 453 ft tall, with a base of 476 ft by 250 ft
  ∙ Mayor George E. Cryer comissioned lead architect John Parkinson to design the building in 1925
  ∙ Building completed and dedicated on April 26th, 1928
  ∙ Tallest building in Los Angeles until 1968
  ∙ The top of the tower is modeled after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world

Why Build City Hall?

I’m a native Angeleno and as such I’ve been saturated in the architectural culture and history of Los Angeles for my entire life. As a LEGO builder, I think there’s an inherent appreciation of and affinity for architectural design.

I remember taking family trips down to Disneyland in Aneheim in my youth, and later LEGOLAND in Carlsbad in my adolescence, and more often than not we would drive through the 101 Freeway. (Yes, we call it “the 101“, not “101”.) City Hall was a prominent feature of the skyline during these drives, and something I always looked forward to seeing, even before I knew what it was, or that I would someday attempt to build it out of LEGO bricks.

History of the Build

Version 1

My first research images and saved CAD files date back to December 2014. My first version was about half the size of the final one, with the seed parts being the headlight bricks for the windows and the fences for the columns. It would have made for a very manageable size, but I wasn’t able to get the amount of detail I wanted, especially in the top of the tower and columns.

Version 2

Sometime in the spring of 2015 I built the top of the tower of an updated version. The seed part that motivated the build (and determined the scale) was theWhite 33291 Plate, Round 1 x 1 with Flower Edge (4 Knobs / Petals) as the capitals of the columns. I built down to about the 30th floor.

After calculating the sheer amount of White 3005 Brick (about 600) and 3024 Tr. Black Plate I’d need for the build (about 5000) I knew this wasn’t going to materialize overnight. At some point I placed an order with LEGO for the majority of the bulk brick I needed and completely forgot about the order and the build until they arrived in November 2016.

Having the majority of the parts in-hand motivated me to convert my built model into CAD. From there I was able to confirm the scale of what was built, expand it and complete the blueprint for the entire building. From December 2016 to January 2017, I constructed most of main building tower, the north and south wings, and the front of the surrounding base.

BricksLA 2017

I decided to display the building at BricksLA 2017, which is held annually in Pasadena during the month of January. This pushed me to complete enough of the build to display it. I made a very basic grass base for the building. The east (“back”) wall was literally a wall (no windows, doors, or detail). There was no roof detail for the base, no foliage aside from eight palm trees flanking either side of the main entrance. I was happy enough with the build but I knew I wanted to keep at it.

Version 3

I had to put the build on hold for about a year; a new home, new baby, new job opportunities will do that! The build did not survive the year, which was a blessing in disguise. It forced me to rebuild AND rethink a lot of the techniques I used. New LEGO elements introduced since the initial build really helped me to get the build more accurate and more solid, while still appearing almost exactly the same on the outside.

By June 2018 I had the building completed. At this point I could advance my previous plans of building out the entire city block that Los Angeles City Hall is located within. I scaled the block to the building in CAD, and over the next five months took my time to build the base, add in Grand Park, work on the foliage and placement, and elevate the streets (the northwest corner is the highest point; the southeast corner the lowest).

Having about two months between “completion” and BricksLA 2019, and having recently finished a commission that required lighting, I decided to see what kind of lighting I could add to City Hall. I was able to get lighting behind the columns as well as the aircraft warning light on top. I do plan to add more lighting inside the building proper, as well as the spotlights on the walkways around the base.

BricksLA 2019

I was very happy to be able to display the completed build at BricksLA 2019, including the full city block, Grand Park, sidewalks and palm trees, and all the other details I poured so much time into getting right. It was the first LEGO creation attendees would see when walking down the stairs to the display area.

I was honored that the build was recognized by my fellow convention attendees as a “MOC of Note.” I even got to take home what I think is a cool trophy, one of three (that I built) for the “MOC of Note” category; I didn’t expect to take one back home with me!

I really had a fun time interacting with the public. It was cool seeing people recognize the building, point out details that they knew about, or just appreciate it as a build without being familiar with it.

Researching the Build

As long as I’ve been driving, I’ve frequently made pit stops while in downtown LA to take a quick drive around City Hall, admiring its grandeur from the comfort of a vehicle. I’ve also enjoyed researching old postcards and photos of City Hall, especially from the era in which it was constructed.

In December 2016, once I had started working on the CAD model of the full building, I took my family to downtown to walk around City Hall and take some detailed pictures. While walking by the main entrance we saw that it was open to the public (something I’d never considered) so we decided to take a self-guided tour. Say what you will about government employees, but every single one we ran into during our visit, from the police officers checking us in, to the office folks taking the same elevators as us, was exceptionally friendly and welcoming. It was a pleasant surprise and a wonderful experience I won’t soon forget.

Since our initial tour, focusing on the exterior details of the building, I’ve made several more field trips to City Hall, to focus on the street detail, landscaping and topography, foliage placement, etc. It’s been a really fun experience seeing City Hall in a new way and with a new focus each time.

Attention to Detail

Changing the dynamic of my research from Google searches to site visits was immensely helpful, especially as I moved from strictly architecture to the street level details. Some of the many things I paid attention to, which you can also see in detail in the Image Gallery, include:

  • sidewalk palm trees
  • trees in Grand Park
  • overall elevation
  • air raid alarm
  • bus stops
  • fire hydrants
  • POW-MIA flag I designed and had printed by EclipseGrafx


Click here to see Los Angeles City Hall on Google Maps!

Press inquiries? Members of the media are encouraged to contact Bruce at bruce@brucelowell.com.

Banana Stand

There’s always money in the Banana Stand!

Since I posted my original Banana Stand in 2015, I’ve received many requests for instructions, sets, stickers, etc. Since then I’ve been able to refine the design and, more importantly, have some professionally printed and die-cut stickers made up for the MOC. I heard the calls for making this available loud and clear. I wanted this to be a special kit; my first publicly available kit that incorporated full color PDF instructions, custom figures, high quality stickers, all in a fun build and a nice package!

CLICK HERE or on one of the pictures to pre-order your Banana Stand today over at my Web Store!

  • Pre-orders will start March 14th 2019
  • All pre-orders will also receive a “Banana Man” mini-figure!
  • Kits are expected to ship on Cinco de Cuatro, May 4th 2019

Mac Tonight

Mac Tonight; the coolest fast food mascot of the 1980’s. I planned this as a minifig(ish) scale model, but after seeing my Arrested Development Frozen Banana Stand I saw an opportunity to double the top of the banana to attempt a crescent moon shape. I’m glad I got to get another cool MOC out of the shaping! :)

LEGO Mac Tonight

LEGO Mac Tonight

BricksLA 2019 MOC of Note Trophy

Following up on the trophies I made for BricksLA 2018, I also built three of these “MOC of Note” trophies for BricksLA 2019, which was held in Pasadena, CA earlier this month. It was a perfect followup to my LEGO “sports” trophy, and maintained the theme from 2018.

The funny thing is, I actually won one of these trophies for my Los Angeles City Hall MOC that I (re)debuted at the show!

LEGO BricksLA 2019 MOC of Note Trophy

BricksLA 2018 MOC of Note Trophy

I built three of these “MOC of Note” trophies for BricksLA 2018, which is held annually in Pasadena, CA in the month of January. It was a perfect opportunity to build a LEGO “sports” trophy; I’ve had some pictures saved in my ideas folder for about 5 years so I’m glad I was able to follow through on it.

I also built MOC of Note trophies for BricksLA 2017 but I don’t think I have any pictures saved unfortunately.

LEGO BricksLA 2018 MOC of Note Trophy

Boba Fett Bust

I started this bust of Boba Fett, based off the Lowell Sphere, maybe 5 years ago, and kept it as a WIP in my bin of sand green plates. It wasn’t until just yesterday, when I purchased the Brickheadz Boba Fett and was able to use a good amount of the pieces to finish this model to my satisfaction. I’m REALLY happy with it! :)

LEGO Boba Fett Bust

Proto Man

Proto Man is the older “brother” of the titular character of the Mega Man video game series. I’ve always thought he was awesome with his shades, yellow scarf, and general aloofness. I’ve been wanting to create a large version of Proto Man for a while, and drew inspiration from Mike Nieves’ Proto Man and MOKO’s Masked Rider. I hope I honored their builds with this one.

Proto Man stands over 14″ tall.

LEGO Protoman

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

This is a first! A non-LEGO related post. I guess I can do what I want with my own website. :)

So now that I’ve had some time to really digest after three viewings, here’s some thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’ve tried my best to give it the benefit of the doubt and come with fresh eyes with each viewing. Normally I don’t care to publicly express any opinions because, honestly, who cares? This is just to provide some catharsis, and if it benefits you in any way, I’m happy about that. I also write this knowing full well that Star Wars is just a movie series and, as much as I love it, it isn’t anything more than that in my life. Also, if this is the worst I have to complain about I’m doing alright!

The Last Jedi was a fun movie going experience. I won’t deny that. On first pass, it was a fun movie, and had a lot of surprises and good things going for it (every scene with Kylo Ren and/or Rey), but tying it into Star Wars lore as a whole, it ultimately dishonors ALL Star Wars that came before. And I’m m not just saying that for dramatic effect.

I’m just going to list all the issues I had with the movie, hopefully in order of importance (highest to lowest, then technical issues) but this is more a stream of consciousness so I might not adhere too strictly to that. Here goes!

  1. Luke’s character and legend has been completely wasted in this new canon. The ENTIRE OT was about Luke being an optimist and a hero, redeeming his father, and ultimately about the Light side (love) defeating the Dark side (hate). Fast forward 30 years, we’re back to square one. The promise of the “RETURN OF THE JEDI” (it’s in the dang title, for God’s sake) is that things are going to get better. But nope, same old Empire, same old bad guys; NOTHING Luke or the rebellion did matters. Blow up a Death Star? No worries, we got a Starkiller. Kill the Emperor? Don’t worry, we got a Supreme Leader now.
  2. Luke making himself a temporary diversion from keeping the First Order from getting in the old Rebel base? Okay, but golly that’s a lame “comeback.” If a cheap diversion is the spark needed to reignite the rebellion, I feel sorry for the Republic…
  3. Luke dying/transforming into the Force/whatever. I don’t mind Luke dying in this movie, but he effectively did NOTHING. Luke’s involvement in this movie: he runs away, performs a magic trick, dies. Luke Skywalker is a failure. Thank you, Rian Johnson!!!
  4. “Young” Luke looked HORRIBLE! Seriously, Marvel can make Kurt Russel look 40 years younger, and Lucasfilm can’t believably make Mark Hamill look 5-10 years younger?!?! It reminded me of James Lipton.
  5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the first saga film that didn’t actually have two lightsabers touch?
  6. I might’ve missed it, but what was Luke’s third lesson for Rey?
  7. Snoke was a waste. For everything that the Emperor built up over several decades, it’s already a stretch for the Rebellion to have taken it down in four years. But then in under one generation we get the First Order that’s bigger, better, more efficient, more evil, etc. etc., with a ruler that’s a badder dude than the Emperor, and who’s supposed to have been around for a lot longer, for him to get bested by Kylo Ren with no real back story or explanation to who he is, is just sloppy. His death was cool and unexpected, but “behind the scenes” it shows a disregard for all of Star Wars to do that to him. I get that Disney wanted a soft reboot of the franchise, but they might as well have started from scratch so as not to have to effectively invalidate the saga up to this point.
  8. Andy Serkis did SUCH a good job as Snoke, so it makes it even worse that we won’t see more of him nor find out more about him.
  9. The First Order is shown to be a bunch of idiots. They have to be smart to be able to seize so much power in so little time. Showing them so buffoonish is disrespectful to that fact.
  10. Why not send a legion of TIE’s to shoot or even kamikaze into the Raddus? How about bombers just like the Resistance did to the Dreadnaught? “Out of Range” is no excuse.
  11. Small gripe; Snoke was supposed to be all about show. “Opulence” is the word that was bandied about describing his tastes. Why? Because he dressed in gold and wore a ring? Aside from that, he seemed about as boring as old Emperor Palpatine to me. But if I’m not mistaken, Palpatine liked gold and red in his office in the prequels. Whatever.
  12. Rey is too powerful, especially with the reveal that she’s “no one, nothing.” Anakin was the “Chosen One” and Luke comes from that lineage yet Rey, within hours or learning about the Force, is able to do what Luke never could (or at least never displayed) in three movies? Luke struggled to balance a few small rocks and Rey can clear an exit entirely blocked off by boulders?
  13. Maz being in the middle of a fight while talking to the Resistance. If I were in a life-or-death situation, I’d probably send you to holo-voicemail. Sorry. Also, she’s all of a sudden everyone’s contact and buddy?
  14. Good Lord, show some respect for the dead. Letting Leia die when the bridge was blown out would be a perfectly fitting end for her character, especially as it relates to her son, who couldn’t bring himself to do it but saw it happen anyway. How about have Kylo go all Kylo on his wing mates for killing his mom?
  15. Why not have Leia be the one to kamikaze into Snoke’s Star Destroyer? THAT’D be another good (and brave) end for her character. THAT could even be a good impetus for Luke to join the fight again; remorse for being a stick in the mud. Now we have to deal with the fact that Carrie Fisher is dead and Leia is not.
  16. Leia’s Force-save overshadowed the death of the other Resistance leadership, especially Ackbar. That’s selfish storywriting.
  17. If the bridge was blown out, how was the ship even functional for the kamikaze mission?
  18. Holdo was a cool character, but if this movie is about letting old things die, why not give the hyperspace sacrifice to Leia or Ackbar or anyone else whose death would actually have an impact on the audience.
  19. Holdo’s (and Leia’s) plan was to evacuate to the planet Crait anyway? That literally makes Finn and Rose’s mission 100% unnecessary.
  20. Finn and Rose’s mission was 100% unneeded in the story anyway. The Canto Bight scenes were boring and preachy, and the CGI showed. Fathiers (space horses) running all over town? Didn’t Indiana Jones and the Crystal of the Kingdom Skull have that same scene? Oh right, it was monkeys on vines. I could barely spot the difference.
  21. Benicio Del Toro’s character didn’t really add anything, and was a waste of a good actor. Thanks for that.
  22. Poe is not a good character. He’s got a big mouth (forgivable) but it gets old quick. He’s selfish; wanting to take out the Dreadnaught and being in a leadership role (positional or not) he’s ultimately responsible for the maybe 20+ deaths from the entire bomber fleet, and only gets demoted? Maybe he could’ve kamikaze’d himself as penance. Also, TFA made him too powerful. Seriously, in one 10-second sweep he shot down 5+ TIE’s plus a handful of stormtroopers? Han, Luke, and Anakin never pulled off any stunts nearly that impressive. Same problem carries over to this movie.
  23. BB-8 is cute, but his actions are unbelievable. Smashing your head inside an X-Wing fixes the weapons system? Okay. Shooting out 50+ coins at a police officer? Okay. Piloting an AT-ST? Now we’re reaching Prequel-level ridiculousness (and I say that as a big fan of ALL Star Wars movies until this one).
  24. If this movie was supposed to be risky, why not actually follow through on Finn sacrificing himself. That’s one thing Lucas wouldn’t do to Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back or Lando Calrissian in Return of the Jedi. It would’ve been a perfect moment and an excellent end to a good character.
  25. Rose is selfish. She “saved” Finn at the expense of the entire Resistance. Wouldn’t knocking out that battering ram have prevented the First Order from penetrating the base? So she stole his sacrifice from him so they could be dead anyway in, what, five minutes? At least they got a kiss out of it…
  26. Couldn’t the First Order landed all their Gorilla walkers a little closer? (I’ll admit that’s a nitpick since the Empire couldn’t done that in The Empire Strikes Back.) How about redirect another Dreadnaught to Crait to blast the planet’s surface into rubble? Or kamikaze a star destroyer into the base and be done with the Resistance forever.
  27. Why did the Resistance have to mount a defense at all? The ski-skimmer attack and trench defense seemed pointless. Why not just close the doors and wait for backup?
  28. Phasma sucks. I’ve seen how she’s been compared to Boba Fett. The difference is that the allure and appeal of Boba Fett (as far as I know) happened naturally, because he looks and sounds awesome. Phasma was pushed on us as a strong independent female but they failed to deliver on that. Twice. And now she’s dead.
  29. C-3PO is more annoying than ever. And not in an endearing The Empire Strikes Back way. Send him to the spice mines of Kessel, already.
  30. I get that they want to show how the Force is being opened up (or whatever) to anyone, but Force-pulling a broom into your hand from a foot away is just lazy. Shame on you, kid.
  31. Chewie should’ve taken a bite of the rotisserie Porg.
  32. Porgs in general. They were bearable in some scenes, but over-the-top product placement in general. At least the Ewoks did something useful.
  33. The cinematography was different than any of the other saga movies, and I think the technical structure or framework of the movies should be the one constant; where characters, situations and themes shift from movie to movie and trilogy to trilogy.
  34. Where are the scene wipes? Cheesy or not, they’re Star Wars!
  35. The humor was way out of place and usually lingered.
  36. “Big ass” has no place in Star Wars.
  37. DON’T start a paragraph (of the opening crawl) with “But.” That’s just improper!
  38. There was no memorable new music. It was just a “Greatest Hits” of OT music, and most of it felt like it was ripped, not even re-recorded for this score. Sorry, Williams…
  39. The fact that this movie (currently) has a 93%/57% on Rotten Tomatoes really makes me question professional movie reviewers; not their taste in movies, but their integrity. I listened to A LOT of reviews of this movie before and after it came out, and it’s surprising how similar (almost verbatim) so many key points of many of the reviews are. Disney does not let these reviewers see their movies early altruistically, they’re expecting something in return and I’m sure dangle the carrot of the next advance movie screening in front of them. It’s all about the money…