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Penobscot Building (1928)
Minifig scale model of the 1928 Penobscot Building in Detroit, Michigan
About this creation
The Penobscot Building
In the late 1920s, the skyline of Detroit changed dramatically as dozens of skyscrapers and high-rises were erected. The city block on which the Penobscot Building was constructed already contained the original 13 story Penobscot Building of 1905 and the 23 story Penobscot Annex of 1913. In 1928 yet another Penobscot Building was put up and this time there were no half measures. Architect Wirt Rowland designed a modern 47 story art deco tower that in the year of its completion was the fifth tallest office building in the world and the tallest outside New York. Compared to some other art deco skyscrapers, the Penobscot has fewer details but it makes up for it by its height and the complex series of setbacks at the top. The Penobscot was the tallest building in Detroit from 1928 until 1977 when the Renaissance Center's 72 story Westin Hotel (now Marriot) was completed.

The Lego Model
My minifg scale model of the Penobscot Building has 41 floors compared to the 47 of the real building. It was very difficult to get the proportions exactly right so model's floor height it a little higher than it should be. To compensate, I reduced the number of floors by six. One feature of the real building that I did not include in the model is the slight angle of the front facade. The real buiding's north side is 16 windows across and the south side is 17 windows across; my version is 16 windows on all sides. I believe that this model is one of the tallest minifig scale Lego buildings (the buildings at the Legolands are "Miniland" scale so they do not count!).

Building Statistics:

  • Construction Start: September 1, 2006.

  • Construction End: June 12, 2007.

  • Current Status: Office buildiing - in use.

  • Height: Skyscraper.

    • Roof: 9.5 feet (3 meters).

    • Architectural Top: 9.5 feet (3 meters).

    • Spire/Antenna: 11 feet (3.4 meters).

  • Foorplate: 68 x 70 studs.

  • Floors: 41.

  • Weight: (Estimated) 160 Lbs.

  • Portability: Building separates into 12 modules for transport to MichLTC shows.

  • Colors:

    • Light blue gray - walls.

    • Light gray - certain grooved bricks (there was not enough in light blue gray).

    • Sand green - certain recessed spandrels.

    • Dark blue gray - roof (including setback roofs), window sills.

    • Tan - details on base of building.

    • Gold - certain spandrels near base of building.

    • Black - portions of front entrance way and the mast on building roof.

    • White - section on side of building that faces the Ford Building.

    • Trans-red - the globular light on top of the mast.

A couple of minifig-eye views of the top of the building showing the numerous art deco setbacks that give it a cubistic style. These pictures were taken when I first test-assembled the building on my back patio; the building is too high to fully assemble inside my house.

Pictures taken during construction. On the left is a detail of base of the building. On the right, the Lego tower crane "assists" construction. If anyone wonders if I have a "life", I certainly do. Most people watch TV; I build MOCs AND watch TV! Ha ha! I spent many an evening watching or at least listening to the Daily Show with John Stewart (and the Cobert Report) while adding another floor to the building.

After rising vertically for 30 stories, the first of a series of set backs begin. Getting this part right was the most difficult part of the construction. In the spring of 2007, I had another potential problem; I had purchased almost the entire supply of 2x2x6 grooved light gray and light blue gray modified bricks on Bricklink and ended up barely scraping enough together to complete the project.

I displayed my Penobscot Building to the public for the first time at the 2007 NMRA National Train Show which was held in Detroit, Michigan from July 27-29. When I finished assembling the building on the MichLTC train table the tip of the antenna was fully 14 feet above the floor of the Cobo Conference Center. The other tall building is my David Stott Building (previously my tallest).

The real Penobscot is one block from the center of downtown Detroit. As you can see the proportions of my model is just a little narrower than the original. Some compression was necessary to I could fit the building sections into a van for transport!


 I like it 
  November 20, 2014
Great model. You can't really understand the scale until you see it compared to someone. Amazing work.
 I like it 
  October 3, 2013
Dimensions just as I like, fantastic build.
 I like it 
  April 27, 2013
  December 12, 2011
I just saw this at The Henry Ford. Amazing job!
 I like it 
  July 19, 2011
that's amazing
 I like it 
  March 16, 2011
I suppose it's not necessary to comment! :-)
 I like it 
  February 11, 2011
Jim Garrett
Erik Rennick
  January 21, 2011
I had to do a double take this is so realistic !! I am a huge architecture fan and i love this!!!sincerely Erik
 I like it 
  December 22, 2010
More than legoland worthy, you have created some of the best buildings and cities on moc, keep it up!
 I like it 
  November 3, 2010
Hey Jim! This building is really fantastic! The fact that you made it minifig scale is just awesome!! This building is too much for me to take in :D! Perfect detail! a perfect 10! Next time you're at Somerset I'll have to talk you into letting me furnish the offices!! ;)
 I like it 
  October 12, 2010
Stunning creation, phenominal scale!
 I like it 
  August 13, 2010
 I like it 
  May 27, 2010
 I like it 
  October 14, 2009
This thing is amazing! The size of the thing astounds me in every way possible, and I'm surprised the thing even fit onto that table! Great job =)
Jim Garrett
 I like it 
Patrick Leon
  April 1, 2009
awesome! that's really big!
 I like it 
  February 27, 2009
Hey, guess what ... i made it to 12 ft. 4 1/2 inches ! ... check out my new Tower at and tell me what ya think ... Thx =]
 I like it 
  February 27, 2009
WOW ! ... so that tower is 11 feet tall ? ... i've never attempted to build a Lego tower before, until just 3 days ago ... that's when i got an unexpected invitation for a Lego Tower contest ... i'm still working on my "ugly" tower (lol) ... but only after one night of work, i already got it to a height of 9 feet, 6 inches ... my ultimate goal is 12 feet, but i hope i can make it taller !
 I like it 
  December 31, 2008
All it's missing is the guy leaping to his death from when the market took a nose dive... other than that, it's PERFECT! ~ Chris.
 I like it 
  December 7, 2008
Ok, so now you start adding interior walls and floors. Shouldn't take more than the next 5 years adding in details like working elevators and stairwells. great build.
 I like it 
  November 22, 2008
 I like it 
  August 25, 2008
Wow, that is a great piece of work. What I would give to have access to so many pieces...
 I like it 
  April 14, 2008
 I like it 
  February 21, 2008
This is awsome! The sheer scale of this building is mind blowing. Great work!
 I like it 
  February 21, 2008
Hey Jim, You do great work!!! This tower looks so amazing; I have seen the real one when I was in Detroit last year... I have a question, though: Would you be interested in creating a building that really fascinated me in Detroit - the old train station?? I would love to see it built by you, in a look of decay like the real one maybe?!? When we drove through the city coming from the direction of Dearborn, that really dark, creepy but capturing building just seemed to dominate the area... I loved it and would have been sooo interested in entering. I´d love to see it in Lego... Anyways, keep up the amazing work!!! Viele Grüße aus Deutschland, Steffen
 I like it 
  December 9, 2007
Wow! how many pieces did you use?
 I like it 
  September 3, 2007
SLAM! That was my jaw hitting the floor! I wish I had the funds to build something like that! It's amazing! On average, what does it cost to build your creations?
 I like it 
  September 3, 2007
Another beautiful creation; however, if you are going to hire a model to stand next to your creation may I suggest one that is at least as pretty as your creation. But at least the one you have pictured does not distract from your tower ;-) Lee.
 I like it 
  September 3, 2007
You have a very expensive hobby...
 I like it 
  September 3, 2007
wow jou are the man i mean look how hi it is :O
By Jim Garrett
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