Brick By Little Brick

Posted 17 September 2014 1:14 PM by TCAuthor3

By Carol Ryczek, community relations, Shawano Medical Center

Someday, an archeologist of the future will stumble upon a buried layer of stuff that will represent our civilization. Just as we can date previous cultures by their pots and knives, this future Indiana Jones will date his find by the traces of our lives preserved in rock and time: aluminum cans, single flip-flops, and LEGO bricks. Millions and millions of 2-inch bricks.

LEGO bricks are the universal force that literally holds childhood together. These small plastic pieces are used to make everything from monster cars to Marie Curie’s laboratory. The largest known LEGO structure (so far) is a 23-ton, 5.3 million brick replica of an X-Wing fighter from Star Wars. They have also been used to replicate the Empire State Building and the entire nation of Japan.

But those are just models. What if we used Lego bricks to build a real building?  How many snap-together pieces would it take to make, perhaps, the new ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano? Fortunately, the engineers at Boldt Builders, the resources of the Internet, and a free calculator App can tell us this!

Brian Mulroy, the Boldt project engineer, estimates that 84,000 bricks will be used to create the walls of the new medical center. That’s 84,000 masonry bricks and mortar. If you convert one brick to the LEGO equivalent (get those calculators out: it’s roughly 662 for the large, industrial bricks used in this project), you would need 55,608,000 LEGO bricks to create the structure.  Given that we might need a little wiggle room for corners and pieces that get lost under the bed, we could easily round up that up to 55.7 million.

Even if you don’t convert them to LEGO, 84,000 bricks is a lot of bricks. You can see them being set into place in a dramatic time-lapse video at Just go to the site and click on the picture to pull up the movie.  In addition to the bricks, you’ll also see steel, glass, and stone going into the structure.                          

What is the largest building-block structure you or your kids have ever built? How many bricks did you use? Drop a note to and I’ll describe your biggest and best plastic construction projects in an upcoming blog.