LEGO Gifts for the Passionate AFOL Builder

Beyond the LEGO Architecture Kits

Fans dressed as lego men and women
LEGO Fans. Photo by Carl Fourie Gallo Images / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images (cropped)

You've built all of the LEGO Architecture kits. Kids' stuff.You've gone beyond following step-by-step directions with a bagful of preselected LEGO® parts. You want to go free-form. You want to really build things and learn about architecture and urban design. What amuses the AFOL—the Adult Fans of LEGO? What are the tools of the hardcore LEGOist? Check out these popular products:

The LEGO Architect by Tom Alphin

The LEGO Architect by Tom Alphin
The LEGO Architect by Tom Alphin. Image courtesy

Alphin's book is not a big, unusable coffee table book. At about 9 inches square and less than 200 pages, it's a handy manual to get the architecture enthusiast thinking about historic styles in commercial architecture, like the 1952 Lever House or the cover photo of Unité d'habitation designed by Le Corbusier. Place the book near where you're working to study the LEGO models of Neoclassical, Prairie, Art-Deco, Modernism, Brutalism, Postmodern and High-tech. No doubt Alphin will expand his architectural history crash course in the next edition. For now, it's near perfect.

Publisher: No Starch Press, 2015

Sample Pages

Images courtesy

LEGO Architecture Studio

1,210 pieces, sorting trays, and 272-page book in the LEGO Architecture Studio by the LEGO Group
1,210 pieces, sorting trays, and 272-page book in the LEGO Architecture Studio by the LEGO Group. Image courtesy

Be your own architect! Don't expect colorful blocks in this serious edition. With only white and clear blocks,. this studio set lets you concentrate on the design without being sidetracked with bright colors. LEGO is adding more and more buildings to their Architecture Series, but they also want you to design your own. With over 1200 LEGO bricks and a 272-page guidebook, the design studio has arrived to rave reviews.

LEGO Architecture: The Visual Guide by Philip Wilkinson

LEGO Architecture book - The Visual Guide
The Visual Guide by Philip Wilkinson. Image cropped from

Is free-building too intimidating for you? Then maybe you do want to begin with the LEGO Architecture Series - defined plans with predetermined LEGO blocks. Before purchasing any of the kits, however, you'd do well to check out this slipcased Dorling Kindersley (DK) book by Philip Wilkinson. Not only will you learn more about the buildings' architecture, but you'll go through the LEGO choosing and manufacturing process led by a team of enthusiasts that just may be more obsessed than you are!

Publisher: DK, 2014

For more information about this glorious book, listen to an enlightening conversation between radio host Joe Donahue and the LEGO Architectural Artist and Inventor, architect Adam Reed Tucker, on WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

The LEGO Movie

The LEGO Movie, 2 DVD Set
The LEGO Movie, 2 DVD Set. Image crop courtesy

You think The LEGO Movie is for kids? Think again! Sure, it's got plastic oceans and skyscrapers, and maybe the LEGO minifigures are a bit too polymer, but who in the architecture business hasn't been frustrated by plasticity—in inexpensive building materials and in people without imagination?

Any movie featuring Vitruvius deserves a special award. Take a break from your own manic LEGO building with this fun family film. The 2014 Warner Bros. movie is filled with colorful action, loud crashing, fast talking, and a ton of ideas—just like in the building trade. It's all there. Because, you know, Everything Is Awesome.

LEGO Classic Sets

LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box
LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box. Image courtesy

One might prefer the white and clear box of LEGO bricks, but a Postmodernist building just doesn't seem complete without a few color stripes. LEGO may offer too many choices for some people's tastes — medium, large, creative, bright, brick box — you get the picture. The sets have a different number of pieces, too, so compare the prices to get a per-piece cost.

The LEGO Neighborhood Book by Brian and Jason Lyles

The LEGO Neighborhood Book, Build Your Own Town by Brian Lyles and Jason Lyles
The LEGO Neighborhood Book by Brian Lyles and Jason Lyles. Image crop from

LEGO has been selling "modular buildings" since 2007. Each LEGO Creator Modular Building Set is a structure you may find in a town—a cafe, a green grocer, a pet shop, a cinema. These expensive kits then can be attached to create a town. Before investing in these pricey kits, however, get the book by the brothers Lyles. "Go your own way," they say, and buy the bricks you need from The authors help you to see and replicate the world around you—just like a budding architect.

Publisher: No Starch Press, 2014, 204 pages

Too Much Plastic?

Over 60 billion LEGO elements were manufactured in 2014. That's a lot of plastic. It's well-known that most LEGO bricks are made from Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene or ABS. As sales grow, so, too, does the use of this low-cost, impact resistant plastic. In 2015 the LEGO Group announced the formation of the LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre based at their headquarters in Billund, Denmark. Their goal is to search for a more sustainable material by 2030. We'll see.