BYU employee’s Lego temple replica draws crowds at HBLL

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Dave Jungheim’s Salt Lake City Temple replica, made out of 35,000 Legos. The piece is part of the HBLL’s Special Collections exhibit this month. (Maddi Driggs)

Exactly 35,000 Lego pieces, 1,030 hours of work and one gold Obi-Wan Kenobi make up the Salt Lake City Temple display in the Harold B. Lee Library.

Dave Jungheim, who works in alumni relations at the BYU Marriott School of Business, made it all come together in this huge replica made entirely out of Legos. The replica is part of an exhibit located in the L.Tom Perry Special Collections titled Building Faith: Bricks of Religion.

Brick artist Jungheim said his love for creating with Legos reaches back to his childhood.

“I was born in Hamburg, Germany, and when my family moved to the U.S. when I was 9, Legos were the only toy we brought,” Jungheim said.

He served a mission in Germany and received a degree in German and military science from BYU before graduating from Army flight school and deploying to Afghanistan in 2001. But Jungheim said he never abandoned his passion for making masterpieces out of the tiny plastic pieces.

“I was making mechanical robots and operational helicopter rotors out of Legos,” Jungheim said. “But my wife kept suggesting I make a replica of the Salt Lake City Temple, where we were sealed.”

He said he began designing the Lego replica of the Salt Lake Temple during flight school and his deployment to Afghanistan.

“I started building one corner tower of the temple in my barracks,” Jungheim said. “I got strange looks, because on our days off my colleagues would go out drinking, and I would work on the Lego temple.”

Jungheim worked on the structure for almost nine years in the midst of military service, raising five children with his wife and receiving an MBA from BYU. He finished the structure almost three years ago.

The BYU alumnus said last May the Marriott School published an article about his temple replica, which went viral on the Internet and led to appearances on several television stations to tell the story of his project.

“A family found me through LDS Philanthropies and became my first official client when I built them another Lego replica of the Salt Lake Temple,” Jungheim said. “That was when I decided to create my company called Inspired Bricks.”

The library exhibit has a time-lapse video of Jungheim creating this second replica.

“I had to do some of that project on a Sunday, but I figured I was doing temple work, so I didn’t feel so bad,” Jungheim joked.

The library exhibit features several of his Inspired Bricks creations. A Book of Mormon created with Legos shows the same intricate details as the temple replica.

Jungheim’s biggest project in the works right now is a Lego replica of Temple Square, but a few other projects will come first.

“I’ve started making the Gold Plates out of Legos,” Jungheim said. “I’m also working on a Lego model of the Tabernacle on Temple Square, which will be epic.”

The replica reflects his attention to detail, with stickers on the side of the temple where the phases of the moon are carved into the stone. Four hundred LED lights depict the real-life lighting of the temple and the grounds. The entire temple structure rests on a wooden base that Jungheim carved and built himself.

“I did woodworking in high school,” Jungheim said. “I scratched the design for this wooden base on the back of church programs for two years. I wanted to get it just right.”

The Angel Moroni on top of the temple is actually an Obi-Wan Kenobi Lego figure Jungheim painted gold.

The exhibit has had unprecedented attendance for a special collections exhibit at the library, said Heather Martin, the research assistant for the Building Faith: Bricks of Religion exhibit.

“I get the chance to see people come view the exhibit, and their faces light up no matter how old they are,” Martin said.

Martin said Trevor Alvord, the Curator of Contemporary Mormonism for Special Collections, decided to include this exhibit because of its appeal to all ages of the BYU community.

“Legos have become a universal medium to express faith,” Martin said. “The medium is familiar and the subject is relatable. It seemed like a perfect fit for BYU.”

Martin said the photos of the Lego exhibit on the HBLL’s Facebook page have received almost 800 shares.

“Between Facebook shares, and the shares from the Deseret News coverage of the exhibit, tens of thousands of people have expressed interest in this fairly small exhibit,” Martin said.

Lego temple creations by the company Brick ‘Em Young are also featured alongside Jungheim’s work.

“I want as many people to see this exhibit as possible,” Jungheim said. “I want kids and adults alike to realize that they can be creative in incredible ways.”

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