A local designer is garnering attention for his latest pieces: miniature models of Vancouver landmarks made out of Lego.

Comprised of thousands of pieces of Lego and sometimes taking hundreds of hours to complete, Johnathon Vaughn’s incredible replicas include Pacific Central Station and Save-On-Meats.

“It’s interesting when you talk about Lego – everyone approaches the subject matter with a smile,” said Vaughn. “Sometimes they’re either laughing with you or at you, but there’s always engagement of humour and joy."

Lego 2

The Save-on-Meats project was completed with his brother, and took the duo more than 200 hours of work and 5,000 pieces. The Pacific Central Station replica took roughly 36 hours, and around 5,500 pieces of Lego. 

“It’s not like when you go to the Lego store and get a set and all of your pieces are predetermined and it comes with very intrinsic instructions on how to see it through,” Vaughn said. “A lot of it is exploration…you might spend hours building something only to dismantle it because it didn’t work, or developing a new technique to see it through.”

Vaughn, who was born and raised in East Vancouver, is president of the B.C. chapter of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada. He also owns a design firm, The Notice Group, and lives and works in Gastown. 

His love of Vancouver – especially his neighbourhood – helped spur his Lego projects. 

“I define Gastown as the only true neighbourhood in Vancouver. Not to dismiss any of the neighbourhoods, but for me it’s where it all began,” he said. “I love my neighbourhood, and I love some of the icons in the neighbourhood - both people and buildings.”

His innovative work hasn’t gone unnoticed: Vaughn says he recently received a commission to create a Lego replica of an iconic building in Gastown, although details are still under wraps.

He’s also modifying his Pacific Central Station piece to make it “a bit more architecturally correct” as the model will be displayed for the station’s upcoming 100th anniversary. 

Looking forward, the designer’s goals include recreating the entire intersection of Gastown’s Water and Carrall Streets, as well as the iconic Waterfront Station. 

His Lego hobby may be a creative outlet, he adds, but it’s also been a way to spend time with family, including his brother and nephew. 

“For me it’s been a wonderful way of reintroducing three-dimensional thinking, of light and form and composition, of basic principles of design – but also basic principles of family and relationships,” he said, chuckling.

“I find it hilarious that Lego is a connective tissue, but at the same time I can’t deny the power of that as well.”