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Guardian Building
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LEGO model of the 40 story Guardian Building, Detroit, Michigan in (near) minifig scale.
About this creation


The Guardian Building
The last of the skyscrapers designed by one of Detroit's most important architects, Wirt C. Rowland, the Guardian Building dazzled with its Art Deco blend of Native American, Mayan, and Aztec motifs and its expressive use of color. The 40 story, 486 foot building was completed in 1929 for the Union Trust (soon to be the Union Guardian Trust after a merger later that year). Unfortunately the Great Depression, which started in October 1929, sent the financial institution into insolvency by 1933. After changing hands several times in the following decades, it is now owned by the Wayne County government and is used for government offices.

The LEGO Model
Due to the difficulty in obtaining parts of the appropriate color, this building took 22 months to build. It is of relatively standard construction techniques with some Studs Not On Top used for some window spandrels and the stepped Mayan arches in the entrance way and in the interior banking hall. The model is 8 feet (2.46 meters) to the roof and 9 feet (2.77 meters) to the tip of the flagpole. This is my 2nd tallest LEGO skyscraper after my Penobscot Building. It weighs about 190 pounds (86 KG). The base measures 136 studs by 48 studs (or about 45 inches x 14 inches). The building is composed of 11 portable sections for transport and assembly at various LEGO events.

Main colors are Tan for the base, and Dark/Burnt Orange for the tower. Colors used for details include Sand Green, White, Black, Light Blue Gray, Dark Gray, Olive, Medium Flesh/Carmel, Reddish Brown, Red, Dark Red, Dark Tan, Pearl Gold, etc.

The first public display of this model is as part of the 2014 Michigan Lego Train Club (MichLTC) display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Additional and higher resolution images are available on my Flickr account.


Work in progress: part of the interior lobby and cafe (former banking hall).


Work in progress: just past halfway point in construction.


Lower portion of building showing the tile work and base of the "south tower".


View of main Griswold street entrance showing the stepped arches. Two Native American figures are sculpted into the facade representing Security and Safety.


Close-up view showing my attempt to reproduce the details of brick and tile-work of the original building in LEGO.


Overview of the Guardian Building model.


The Guardian Building takes its place among other Detroit skyscraper models built by me and other Michigan Lego Train Club members at the display in the Henry Ford Museum. The layout is available for viewing by the public from November 24, 2014 to January 4, 2015. From left to right (with roof height indicated) are the Union Depot** (2ft / 0.6m), Guardian Building** (8 ft / 2.46m), Buhl Building (6.5 ft / 2.0m), Ford Building** (4.5 ft / 1.4m), Penobscot Building** (9.5 ft / 2.92m), Dime Building/Chrysler House (5.4 ft / 1.66m), and David Stott Building** (7.5 ft / 2.3m). ** indicates buildings that I built.



Comments

 I like it 
  August 10, 2016
I'm putting a display together for my show car....I'm lookin for some kind of Tokyo style skyscrapers to place around the car at the shows...the need to b like 2-3ft tall...I need like 6 diff ones...all I can find is train models..and there too small...soooo....I seen all these LEGO skyscraper models and figured I'd see what happens....pls email me back ASAP....thx agian..Brent.
 I like it 
  January 31, 2015
I'm without words !!! This is Awesome !!! Amazing moc !!!
 I like it 
  January 30, 2015
Don't really see many accurate sky scrapers built out of lego. Impressive structure, I love the fact that this is minifig and not micro!
 I made it 
  January 1, 2015
Dave, glad you could see the MichLUG display at the museum. Thanks for the comment. I almost wish I could have built the Guardian in Miniland scale rather than Minigif scale as I could have improved some of the details and include some that I had to leave out. Building it in that scale would have broken the bank however....
Quoting Dave Kaleta Jim, Saw MLUGs display at The Henry Ford this past weekend. This building was particularly captivating. The details you've included are wonderful. ~Dave
 I like it 
  December 30, 2014
WOW!
 I like it 
  December 29, 2014
Jim, Saw MLUGs display at The Henry Ford this past weekend. This building was particularly captivating. The details you've included are wonderful. ~Dave
 I like it 
  December 6, 2014
this is amazing- here's to appreciating the weeks of work that went into this beautiful and IMO under appreciated piece!! cheers!
 I like it 
  December 6, 2014
Woah. Woah, woah, woah. Fantastic job. The detail is great!
 I made it 
  December 3, 2014
Quoting Digital Dreams Despite a little repetitiveness that is mostly always inherent with a skyscraper, these buildings are impressive! The detailing, especially up near the top of this building is amazing, and the pictures looking up towards the clouds are superb. One thing currently missing though - if you're going to refer us to your flickr account for more pictures it would be nice if you actually gave us the link on the MOC or at least on your homepage ;-)
Thanks for the comments. Some skyscrapers are more repetitive that others; one reason why I like Art Deco is that there often is more variety than in Modern/International Style high-rise buildings. I added a link to my Flickr Guardian Building set; in addition here is my Flickr main page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/decojim/.
 I like it 
  December 3, 2014
WOW! Huge! Amazing job! 1,000/1,000 :O
 I like it 
  December 3, 2014
Despite a little repetitiveness that is mostly always inherent with a skyscraper, these buildings are impressive! The detailing, especially up near the top of this building is amazing, and the pictures looking up towards the clouds are superb. One thing currently missing though - if you're going to refer us to your flickr account for more pictures it would be nice if you actually gave us the link on the MOC or at least on your homepage ;-)
 I made it 
  December 2, 2014
Quoting Jonathan Lopes Simply fantastic. So nice to see this completed! Excellent work, as always, Jim!
Thanks for the generous comment. This MOC did take a bit too long to finish didn't it! I have always admired your own work. I think I picked up at least one or two construction techniques from your building methods.
 I like it 
  December 1, 2014
Simply fantastic. So nice to see this completed! Excellent work, as always, Jim!
 I made it 
  November 30, 2014
Quoting Walter Lee I love your main Griswold street entrance showing the stepped arches! The detail is absolutely stunning!
Thanks! By the way, if you think my model is detailed, do a Google image search on the real Guardian Building! I had to leave out a tremendous amount of detail in making a 1/60 scale model.
 I like it 
  November 30, 2014
Sweet!
 I like it 
  November 30, 2014
I love your main Griswold street entrance showing the stepped arches! The detail is absolutely stunning!
 I like it 
  November 25, 2014
Incredible!
 I like it 
  November 25, 2014
Amazing! Great pictures! I would not have noticed it is not a real building if I had found this in a different context. Great display with all the other buildings.
 I like it 
  November 25, 2014
A very great masterpiece. I also liked your statement of costs which are less than many people drink at starbucks in the same time. That is a good argument. I wish I had the space to build something so big - but my wife would kill me ;-)
 I like it 
  November 23, 2014
Thats a real-life buildin-no, it's LEGO! Nice work :)
Jim Garrett
 I like it 
John Smith
  November 20, 2014
Spectacular! It looks almost real!
Jim Garrett
 I like it 
Black Smith
  November 20, 2014
Impressive, well done !
 I like it 
  November 20, 2014
Excellent job! That's Amazing!
 I like it 
  November 20, 2014
Wow, the size just floors me. Incredible job!
 I like it 
  November 20, 2014
Huge and very well
 I like it 
  November 20, 2014
Incredible job!
 I like it 
  November 20, 2014
Remarkable and ambitious work! Great architectural detailing and I love that it is built to minifig scale. Beautifully done!
 I like it 
  November 20, 2014
Incredible detail's level for that size. 20/5
Jim Garrett
 I like it 
Benjamin Corey
  November 19, 2014
Amazing! I agree with David, it looks exactly like the real thing!
Jim Garrett
 I like it 
Michael Rutherford
  November 19, 2014
Astounding!
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
The size is insane :-) Well done
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
superb! The contrast in dark tan and tan is perfect. great details around doors and throughout this giant model. very well done.
 I made it 
  November 19, 2014
Quoting Henrik Hoexbroe Wow! This will dwarf anything close to it. Impressive.
When this Guardian Building model is displayed as part of a LEGO train and town layout at the Henry Ford Museum, it will be accompanied by several other LEGO skyscrapers ranging from 5 to 11 feet (1.5 to 3.3 meters) high!
 I made it 
  November 19, 2014
Quoting Sven Jagdmann Absolutely impressive work!!! Stunning! Where did you get all the parts? This must be a really expensive built.
Thanks for the comments! To answer your question: I purchased about half the parts on Bricklink, got a few thousand from sets, and got the rest through a special program provided by TLG.
 I made it 
  November 19, 2014
Quoting Lee Barton I would love to know how much this cost, and whatever the price tag, it's worth it! Absolutely stunning! Your dedication to detail is astonishing.
Thanks for your comments! Since you and a few others have asked about cost, I will say that this LEGO model did cost about $3,000 or so. But spread over the 22 months it took to build, the cost was about $150 a month which is less than what some people spend on coffee at Starbucks or on other vices. The model would have cost much more than even what it actually cost had I not obtained a very good deal on a large quantity of dark orange bricks.
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
amazing!:D
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Well, I'm not sure what to say. This is just ... wow. Amazing work!
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Wow! Epic! It looks so real in the thumbnail that, at first, I thought you'd used a real life reference photo for the title picture!
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
WOW. jaw dropping super MOC. The detail is incredible. A LEGO masterpiece.
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Amazing build!
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
This is awesome!! I just wonder how much was invested in this...
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
I would love to know how much this cost, and whatever the price tag, it's worth it! Absolutely stunning! Your dedication to detail is astonishing.
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Absolutely impressive work!!! Stunning! Where did you get all the parts? This must be a really expensive built.
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Wow! I can only imagine how awesome this model is in real life. You did a killer job on this.
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
gigantic, and impressive, beautiful!
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Extremely impressive scale and detail. Great main pic, too. Coulda fooled me! Awesome!
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Like, wow. That's quite a work of art, not to mention a huge amount of effort in design and execution. Where's the button for more than 5 stars?
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
That is such an amazing build.
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Very impressive work.
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Just gorgeous Jim! I hope to see it in person eventually.
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Oh my word.... That's HUGE! Amazing job! Great work on getting in so much of the detail! --Blast--
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
wauw. nice details and a huge building
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Well I wasn't going to comment because I thought it was a fig on a plate next to some big building, but uhm... :1 Man...
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Wow! This will dwarf anything close to it. Impressive.
 I like it 
  November 19, 2014
Spectacular! The detail and texture on the exterior are great.
Jim Garrett
 I like it 
Matt Bace
  November 18, 2014
Wow! Incredible work. It's particular impressive that you modeled the interior details of the lobby, as well as all of the great exterior details.
 I like it 
  November 18, 2014
woosh
 I like it 
  November 18, 2014
Beautiful reproduction. The scale is unbelievable.
 I like it 
  November 18, 2014
Stunning!
 
By Jim Garrett
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