Business & Economy
February 17, 2021

The Lego Evolution From Boys Toy to Universal STEM Building Blocks

Seven years ago Charlotte Benjamin wrote a hand printed letter to the Lego company talking about her visit to the local toy store. Charlotte was seven years old at the time.

As reported by Kashmira Gander in the Independent, she wanted to know why the boy lego figures “went on adventures, worked, saved people and had jobs” while the girls “go to the beach, shop, and have no jobs.

Miss Charlotte also noted that the boys got to swim with sharks.

The toy maker have been criticised for  producing gender specific lego people that go and gender specific jobs. Miss Charlotte had ended her letter asking the Lego company to “make more Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok? Thank you.”

But here is what is interesting~Lego was introduced in 1934 and was branded as a toy for boys and girls. “Lego” means  to “play well” in Danish and “I assemble’ in Latin.

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It doesn’t matter whether proposals for new housing in Grandview are massive or tiny, there’s a desire or a way to stop them through protest and exhaustion.

Here are two examples that came in over the last few days – the first a circular delivered in the neighbourhood last week:

At the other extreme, this report from Frances Bula in the Globe: Vancouver city hall backlog delays crucial developments:

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This week I wrote about Vancouver’s Shangri-La  Tower which at 201 meters is the tallest tower in Vancouver. A “supertall” tower is classified as any tower over 300 meters high. With additional height comes additional costs when something goes wrong. In the case of the Shangri-La tower there is a defect in the windows which means they may shatter.

The cost for replacement is in the 60 million dollar range, and a trial of over three months is scheduled this Fall in court to figure out who is going to pay for what. In the interim, the two stratas in the building are pretty unhappy, and the limbo of such a huge bill may cloud any real estate sale or purchase.

I also outlined what has transpired with New York City’s 423 meter supertall tower at  432 Park Avenue, which got extra floors to maximize the view. This was done by taking advantage of a loophole to build  mechanical room floors in the sky. Those  are not counted as part of  floor space ratio.

The 432 Park Avenue tower sways, whistles wind, spits and groans. An assessment found that “73 percent of mechanical, electrical and plumbing components observed failed to conform with the developers’ drawings, and that almost a quarter “presented actual life safety issues.”

One of our readers, engineer and planner David Grigg has written succinctly about Vancouver’s supertall and starchitect phenomenon:

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Vancouver is soon to have a new edition of the starchitect interpretation of building with London England’s  Heatherwick Studio’s proposed towers at 1728 Alberni Street and 735 Bidwell Street. The Heatherwick Studio realized  that there might be a bit of a shock value to the proposal of two popsicle lump towers  that look like inverted spark plugs. They cleverly have gone  into “the best defense is a great offense” mode by putting down  all the rest of Vancouver’s architecture to make theirs appear, well, more attractive.

Susan Lazaruk has written about this potential application in the Vancouver Sun. As Ms. Lazaruk writes, the architects find Vancouver design “sterile and boring” and their winding buildings are to emulate trees, connecting the public at ground level to the top of the towers. You can read through the  over 300 page application here.

Wry commenters have already mentioned that the song “99 Luft Balloons” would be a suitable theme for the building, and that probably should be piped as  elevator muzak in the reception area.

The Heatherwick Studio are the same folks that built “The Vessel” in New York City which I wrote about earlier.That 15 storey public art installation with 2,500 stairs and 80 landings cost the developers of Hudson Yards 200 million dollars (that’s US dollars) and provides ” a vertical climbing experience” and has “Vessel Ambassadors” to serve as onsite assistants. Don’t ask if it is fully accessible. It’s not.

The Vessel has  already been pretty well dissed by architectural critics and some of the public as being an expensive confection that is just not that practical.

One architectural  writer went one step further, calling The Vessel “a piece of urban costume jewellery, a gawdy bauble without purpose beyond shallow adornment” and ” a billionaire’s fantasy of the future of city life”. It’s no surprise that  Heatherwick Studio took exception, and you can read some of their  responses here on Dezeen.

But back to Vancouver and the Heatherwick proposal of 401 condominium units in two towers on a base.

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Ever wondered what  is a “supertall building” and  how that differs from a “megatall” tower?

The Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat classify a “supertall” as a building more than 300 meters high. Double that number and you have “megatalls”, anything over 600 meters.

The tallest building in the City of Vancouver is the Shangri-La which has 62 storeys and 201 meters in vertical height, Completed in 2009, that building is not having happy strata meetings as reported by Joanne Lee-Young of the Vancouver Sun.  A Westbank development built by Ledcor it appears there is some heat stress fractures in the windows that can cause the windows to instantaneously  shatter, which could be a problem to passing pedestrians or users of the tower’s pool area.

The remedy, replacing all the windows  will cost over 60 million dollars, and a one hundred day court trial on liability is set for October 2021.

But that may be small change to pay for a luxurious address, as Stefanos Chen reports in The New York Times. New York City’s 432 Park Avenue  building is so tall it needed approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The 426 meter tower 432 Park Avenue in New York City has had six years of occupancy and a host of million dollar problems. These include “millions of dollars of water damage from plumbing and mechanical issues; frequent elevator malfunctions; and walls that creak like the galley of a ship — all of which may be connected to the building’s main selling point: its immense height.”

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