Tiny city finds a home in a big-city museum

November 26, 1990|By Nancy Lawson | Nancy Lawson,Evening Sun Staff

The half-inch-tall plastic people in the city that Marc Kolodner built seemed to have it all -- a hotel, an airport, a cruise ship, a gas station, a police station, a working drawbridge. But it had been a city without a place of its own.

After three years of searching, Kolodner, now 22, finally found that place in the Baltimore Public Works Museum, which agreed this past summer to keep and display his 4-by-8-foot city of Lego plastic interlocking blocks. A dedication ceremony was held yesterday at the museum along the Jones Falls near Pier 6 for the colorful plastic city that took him six years to build.

"For a couple summers I was trying to find a home for it," said Kolodner, who was directed to the museum by personnel in the mayor's office after he had called for advice.

A first-year graduate student in physics at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Kolodner said his homeless city was too big for the apartment where his family now lives and too big for schools, libraries and hospitals where he had tried to have it housed.

Legocity was on display more than two years ago in a toy store in the Lutherville-Timonium area while Kolodner still was an undergraduate at Tulane University in New Orleans and his parents were moving from their house, but the store had to give back Legocity after about six months because it took up too much space.

The miniature city, complete with a construction site, residential homes, a hospital, and fully furnished rooms in the hotel and the double-decker cruise ship, remained separated in the closet of the Kolodner apartment until this summer, when Kolodner worked full-time for about a month to reconstruct it in the museum.

About three-quarters of the city was assembled according to Lego kit instructions, but the other quarter was created by Kolodner.

For instance, the hotel in his version is Park Towers East on Park Heights Avenue, where Kolodner's now-deceased grandparents used to live.

The hotel was part of Kolodner's second city, a combination of half of the first city he had begun building in the sixth grade and new additions he started when he was a ninth-grader at Pikesville High School.

The second half of the original city had to be dismantled because Kolodner ran out of Legos to build the new additions.

"I wrecked it up, and then I cried for days," Kolodner said.

The final city has been dedicated to Kolodner's grandparents.

"That was the motivating factor in rebuilding the second city," Kolodner said. "I'm just very happy that I'm able to dedicate it to my grandparents for their love and support."

Kolodner received many Lego sets from his relatives for birthdays, Hanukkah or even "good report cards," but he doesn't know how many pieces are in his city, he said.

"It's a lot of money, that's for sure," he said.

Kolodner, who was the captain of his high school tennis team during his senior year and the captain of the junior varsity tennis team at Tulane, was introduced to Legos by his mother, Phyllis Kolodner, shortly after she had encouraged him to take up tennis.

"He was a hyper little kid; he just couldn't sit still," she said. "I had to find somewhere to channel that energy, so first I put him on the tennis court, and then I gave him Legos."

After yesterday's dedication, about 15 children ages 6 to 12 participated in a contest to create futuristic buildings out of Lego blocks, some of which were donated by Marc Kolodner.

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