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Mosaic Madness

When the New England LEGO Users Group was commissioned to create a scale model of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill bridge, we wanted to have a backdrop for the piece, also made of LEGO. We decided to create a large mosaic of the Boston city skyline to hang behind the bridge.

Suzanne Rich created the image, performing some "selective compression" and touching up certain details by hand. The next task was to order enough pieces in all the right colors to build it, but we also needed a way to divide the work among our club members if we were to finish the project with our sanity intact. (Keep in mind that at this point in time, Eric Kingsley had 17 feet of LPZ bridging his dining room to his living room.)

So I wrote a program to count the total number of pixels in each of the five available colors: three shades of grey plus black and white. This allowed us to purchase enough of the right 1x1 tiles in each color to build the mosaic. The program also split the image up into 48x48 pixel panes (the size of the large grey baseplates upon which the mosaic is built) and printed out an expanded image of each pane, and step-by-step building instructions of a sort. The program also counted pixels in each pane so that we could assemble kits with the correct proportions of grey plates to build each section.

We got the parts, handed out the kits, and everybody (myself included) quickly tore up the cryptic step-by-step instructions in favor of simply reconstructing the image from the page-sized graphic. I found that it took about an hour and a half to complete each pane. I built three of them myself, covering the lower left side of the Hancock Tower. Other club members assembled many more, with honorable mention going to Jonathan Dallas who assembled the final few unclaimed panes while sitting in Eric's kitchen.

Joe Comeau and Shaun Sullivan organized the final assembly of the mosaic, which involved making a frame to support it in space, as well as modifying the edges of the panes to stitch adjacent panes together. They also reported some heart-stopping moments when they were installing the mosaic on site, atop a large and unstable mound of sand.

The mosaic and bridge are both still intact, and are property of the New England LEGO Users Group.

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Copyright (c) 2003 by Christopher Phillips. All Rights Reserved.
LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies, which does not sponsor, authorize, or endorse this site.