Brick by Brick

On this blustering weekend, we decided to spend time viewing the outdoors from indoors via a visit to the National Building Museum.  Housed in an indistinguishable building on Judiciary Square, the museum opens to all four sides, with a security guard stationed at each entrance.  Their posts are old-school metal desks, giving them little more authority than a strict teacher.  The interior opens into a spacious event area, which was being set in gold tones for a dinner that evening.  Large columns extend four stories with an outline of stone busts staring down from the eaves.  The exhibits open through glass doors on two floors, and adult ticket for $8 provides access to everything, including the current Lego exhibition.

Legos were the reason for our trip and worth the cost.  The three room display held 5-foot model skyscrapers and iconic buildings, such as the White House, each with a sign that detailed the original architect and size, along with the plastic replica size, time to design and build, and most importantly number of bricks.  My husband always judges the quality of a Lego set by the number of bricks and/or the number of figures, the latter of which was noticeably missing from the still-life structures. However, the second room was full of activity with stations of colorful Lego blocks to inspire future buildings. Legos also are abundant in the gift shop, along with other trinkets and interesting objects, as well as an impressive collection of sustainability, architecture, and graphic design books.

Other exhibits showcased the building history of the city, from famous structures, infamous neighborhoods, and the arrival of the beltway and the metro. One of the most interesting parts showed the other important bricks in building history – the original fired-brick, which is anything but singular.  As noted on the signage, bricks have come from many places and many states, including Virginia.  Now used as a veneer, the structural blocks have nostalgic associations with factories, schools, and single-family homes, which perhaps explains why we attracted to our brick-faced apartment building.  Today, we saw it salted in snow for the first time.

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