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Knoxville Native Recreates Henley Street Bridge with LEGOs 
Among the items on display at the upcoming BrickUniverse convention in Knoxville will be a replica of the Henley Street Bridge. 

A 20-foot long, three-foot wide, three-foot tall replica.

Made of LEGOs. 

LEGO Henley Street Bridge model
LEGO Henley Street Bridge model detail
The Henley Street Bridge model will get some final touches before going on display. 

Knoxville native Peter Campbell has been a Lego aficionado since he was four years old. But it wasn’t until he was an adult, with a young son of his own, that he dug out his sizable LEGO collection and began replicating historic buildings. 

The Henley Street Bridge model is a project of the Tennessee Valley LEGO Club, which has members in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Huntsville, Alabama, where Campbell lived for many years after graduating from the University of Tennessee. 

Train & Town display by Tennessee Valley LEGO Club
This is an example of the Town & Train layouts constructed by members of the Tennessee Valley LEGO Club. 

He moved back to Knoxville about four years ago, when the Henley Street Bridge was in the final stages of a three-year, $32-million-dollar renovation by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. 

2010 Henley Street Bridge photo by Brian Stansberry
The Henley Street Bridge in 2010. Photo by Brian Stansberry. 

Campbell recalls that, when he was at UT in the ‘90s, the 80-year-old bridge “was a rundown, dirty bridge. Now it’s a gorgeous part of the skyline.”

Henley Street Bridge in 2015 photo by lindamowles.com
The renovated bridge as it appeared in 2015. Photo by lindamowles.com

At Campbell’s suggestion, the club chose to celebrate the bridge’s renovation and reopening with a model to exhibit at their very first BrickUniverse event, August 26 and 27 at the Knoxville Convention Center. 

Campbell’s specialty is buildings and structures. When he picks a subject for a model, he makes a sketch on paper based on a variety of sources—his and others’ photos, Google street views, and, in the case of the bridge, TDOT’s architectural drawings. 

“I get paid to do electrical engineering,” he says. “But in my free time, I pretend to be a civil engineer.” 

As Gen-Xers may recall, traditional LEGO bricks are almost all squares or rectangles, not exactly flexible or customizable building materials. 

“The challenge is part of the appeal,” Campbell says. “If you model something that’s in the real world, how do you make it believable? I tackle it by looking for that one detail that’s the hardest one to pull off [with LEGOs] and search for the right parts to make that detail, and the rest of the model follows.” 

LEGO Henley Street Bridge stats: 

• The Henley Street Bridge model is at a 1:48 scale appropriate for LEGO minifigures; 1/4 inch represents 1 foot.
• Starting in Summer 2014, club members invested 300 hours into the design stage, utilizing CAD software.
• The model contains 72,000 pieces and over 320 unique parts. 
• It took two and a half years to acquire all those parts.
• The “water” consists of 20,000 dark blue tiles. Only 10,000 of those tiles are available on the market at any one time in the entire world. LEGO helped the club secure the requisite number of dark blue tiles. 
• Construction began in July 2017 and took 250 man hours to complete.

After its debut at BrickUniverse, the model will be on display at the Tennessee Valley Fair, September 9 - 17.

Most club activities involve individual projects like models of different downtown buildings, and Campbell teases that fans of local architecture and Lego models can anticipate the reveal of more Knoxville landmarks in the future. 

“We’re going to keep those under wraps for now,” he says, holding his LEGOs close to his chest. 
Posted by ptravis On 10 August, 2017 at 9:55 PM