When it came time to pick which material the BYU Store’s scaled model of the old Brigham Young Academy would be built from, its director knew there was no medium more classic than Lego bricks.
“I want it to be a signature piece,” said Mark Clegg, the director of the BYU Store at Brigham Young University.
A scaled replica of the old academy, now known as the Provo City Library, was unveiled Wednesday afternoon before a packed crowd in the BYU Store in the Wilkinson Student Center as part of the university’s homecoming week and 144th anniversary celebration.
The model, which weighs 225 lbs and is surrounded by about 300 lbs of plexiglass, was constructed with more than 59,000 Lego bricks sourced from 46 locations around the world. It was built by Dave Jungheim, a Lego artist and administrator in BYU’s MBA program who has previously built a Lego model of the Salt Lake Temple.
The unveiling is part of a yearlong remodeling of the store. Clegg first began talking to Jungheim about the piece three years ago, and commissioned him for the project last fall.
Clegg said the model is a way to connect visitors with the spirit and history of the university.
“It all began at the BY Academy,” Clegg said.
The academy building was completed in 1891 and officially occupied by students in early 1892.
The project came with its own challenges. As Jungheim began researching the project, he realized it was going to have to grow from four to five feet wide to about seven feet wide. Construction also required multiple trips to the university’s special collections in order to uncover the original color of the building’s roof. To start, he only had black and white photos of the building’s opening and suspected the roof was a slate color. Four months later, he found out it was red.
The trips also came with other discoveries, like that a window had been bricked off from the beginning.
“It’s a lot of research,” Jungheim said.
The project required him to use a Lego color called dark medium flesh, a fairly rare color. Not a single piece of the model was painted.
The structure of the building is also unique.
“There are no two walls that are alike,” he said. “There is no symmetry at all.”
He included different Lego figures around the property, from a depiction of Brigham Young, to a couple breaking up during a picnic, to a princess singing to a squirrel and Jungheim’s signature move — a hidden Obi-Wan Kenobi. Another hidden feature lies hidden inside the structure. The model’s support columns are the color of the German flag, where Jungheim immigrated from.
The model means Jungheim, who owns Inspired Bricks LLC, has his name on a piece of campus.
“I think it’s pretty cool because I always told my kids not only to be consumers of art, but to make it,” Jungheim said.
He built the model over the course of about 400 hours in his garage, the only place at his home large enough to build it, sometimes through chilly nights with cold fingers.
He advocates for people to find their own creative outlet, whether it’s through Lego bricks or fly fishing.
“It doesn’t matter your background or your age, everyone needs to be creative in some way,” Jungheim said.
The BYU Store does not have any plans to create future Lego models of campus.
The model is on display in the main level of the store.